Math society members Dayton King, Camille DeMars, Eliza Wright, Courtney Rohde, Catherine Davison and Leah Wesselman gathered with Brian Miceli, associate professor of mathematics, on upper campus at 3:14 a.m. this past Wednesday to celebrate Pi Month.
Miceli and the six math majors worked together to write out the first 3,000 digits of pi in chalk. It took the group 56 pieces of chalk and over four hours to complete the activity.
“Dr. Miceli had the idea so the whole campus would know about Pi Month. And we really wanted to stick to the theme, so 3:14 a.m. was the obvious choice,” Wesselman said in an email.
Teamwork was an essential part of accomplishing this project before students started walking to their first class of the day, and the group devised an efficient method to accomplish the task.
“We all worked together using a ‘leapfrog’ system Courtney came up with,” King said in an email. “One person continuously read digits from a smartphone while the rest of us would write. So a person would write two to four digits and then move to the far right.”
The group made sure to write the digits in high-traffic areas of campus so that people would notice them on their walk to class.
“We wanted to go around a couple of iconic locations like the seal, the fountain and the tower. But when it came to choosing where we were going to end, we kept saying we were going to stop and then changing our mind and continuing on,” Wright said in an email.
Rohde enjoyed participating because it allowed her to express her love for math, and she hopes the rest of the campus community will gain a new appreciation for the subject after seeing the pi path.
“For me at least, I wanted to do this event because I have a passion for math, and this was the first time since I’ve been part of the math society that we have really worked to think up and do a project that would get the campus at large talking about math,” Rohde said in an email. “I thought that this simple bit of artwork would help people better understand what it actually means that pi has infinitely many digits. I imagine that when someone first encountered our pi path, they would have been pretty impressed at how long it was and how it just seemed to wind everywhere throughout upper campus.”
According to Rohde, this is the biggest activity the math society has undertaken during her time in the organization.
“Mostly the math society, to this point, has really just done small things,” Rohde said. “We get together to watch a math-oriented movie like ‘Good Will Hunting’ or ‘Moneyball.’ Someone suggested ‘Life of Pi’ for this month. Sometimes we just hang out and have pizza or ice cream. We also usually design a t-shirt. This was definitely our highest-impact activity to date since I’ve been involved anyway.”
The students want to plan an even bigger event for next year’s pi day.
“I hope that this will become an annual tradition,” Davison said in an email. “Next year pi day occurs on March 14, 2015 (3/14/15), which will be extra special because 3.1415 are the first five digits of pi.”