Time for American pi

14th March 2008 at 00:00

Mathematics teachers in several schools will today be marking International Pi Day - as March 14 can be written in American date style as 3.14, its first three digits.

One event is at Langley School for Boys in Bromley, south London. It is turning over its entire curriculum to a celebration of the irrational number, the cornerstone of Euclidean geometry.

Pupils will compete to recite as many digits of pi as they can from memory. Linden Lonsdale, a Year 12 pupil, can reel off more than 100 digits. But the 17-year-old will face stiff competition from other schools, some of which will be starting events at precisely 26 seconds after 1.59pm today (3.1415926).

Stephen Frogatt, head of maths at Oaks Park High School in Ilford, Essex, wrote in last week's TES Magazine that one of his pupils had learnt the number to 200 places.

And that does not come close to the unofficial world record set by Akira Haraguchi in 1996, who reportedly recited 100,000 digits from memory, pausing every two hours to eat onigiri rice balls to keep up his energy.

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