For those of us who love numbers, we know the significance of today…it’s Pi Day! What makes pi (π) so special? You may recall from your days in school that pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference (the distance around the circle) to its diameter (the distance across the circle at its widest point), and the digits of pi never end and never show a pattern. Some of us even memorized the starting digits of pi, 3.14159265359…

Due to its connection to cycles and its involvement in equations relevant to circular or harmonic motion, pi is used every day in billions of computations, from large-scale supercomputers simulating the earth’s climate to the mechanics behind your ability to talk on your cell phone. Here are just a few of the areas where pi is used:
  • Normal Probability Distribution – Sometimes referred to as the bell curve, normal distributions show up in nearly every specialized field of study — finance, medicine, physics, engineering, etc. — and is applicable to a wide range of natural phenomena such as standardized test scores, lifespan of a product, rolling of dice, and tracking of population dynamics.
  • Signal Processing & Spectrum Analysis – Pi is found in sine waves, used for signal processing in sound and light waves. Watching tv or listening to the radio, taking an ultrasound of a baby in the womb, and studying the behavior of ocean waves all involve the use of pi. Your cell phone technology uses pi when communicating with a local cell tower.
  • Other Applications – The design of clocks, the skin of an airplane, GPS navigation, the make-up of your DNA, the construction of arches, bridges and buildings, and the rhythms of sleep and wakefulness that govern our bodies can also all be determined or described using pi.
There is an endless number of applications of pi. Even though we can’t see pi, it is at work in the world around us each day.
Happy Pi Day from Croixstone Consulting!