# Search results - Tau vs Pi: Fixing a 250-year-old Mistake

## Key facts

Type Day and Weekend Oxford Rewley House 1 Wellington Square Oxford OX1 2JA Sat 1 Jun 2013 Mathematics From £60.00 Applications being accepted O12P245MAJ If you have any questions about this course, please email ppdayweek@conted.ox.ac.uk.

## Enrol online now!

to secure your place on this course now

## Overview

Leonhard Euler popularised the symbol pi in the mid-eighteenth century, establishing ratio of circumference to diameter as the circle constant of choice. But a circle is defined by centre and radius, so which ratio is more natural: circumference to diameter or circumference to radius? This question, pi or tau, is more than notational: it has conceptual, aesthetic and pedagogic implications. The last ten years has seen increasing interest in the question of whether it might be both sensible and possible to depose pi in favour of tau. A 'Tau Manifesto' has been written, setting a good-humoured but persuasive agenda. But now a 'Pi Manifesto' has been written too: Euler's followers are not to be thwarted easily.

We shall look at the history of circle constants from Greek to modern times; weigh the merits of the Tau and Pi Manifestos; consider the implications of the former for 'Pi mythology' (the huge body of Pi-paraphernalia embedded in our culture); and discuss whether it is actually feasible to bring about such a radical change in notation. This course will certainly leave you with an informed opinion on a topical if fringe mathematical issue; you may even find you want to do something about it!

## Programme details

9.45am Registration

10.00am History of the circle constant Archimedes, the Indian scholars, Euler and his followers

11.15am Coffee / tea

11.45am The manifestos: Tau and Pi Circles and angles, classic formulae in physics and statistics, Euler’s Identitiy, De Moivre and the three cube roots of +1

1.00pm Lunch

2.00pm Pi mythology: does Tau compete? Pi the ubiquitous, getting the digits, continued fractions, Buffon’s needle etc etc!

3.15pm Tea / coffee

3.45pm Can the paradigm be shifted? Examples from the past: number systems, currencies, calendars. How to get started. Should we get started?

5.00pm Course disperses

## Staff

#### Dr Robert Lockhart

Role: Director of Studies

#### Prof Robin Whitty

Role: Tutor

Professor Robin Whitty teaches mathematics at Queen Mary University of London and has a visiting chair in Computer Science at London South Bank...more

#### Prof Robin Wilson

Role: Assistant Tutor

Robin Wilson was a professor in the Department of Mathematics at the Open University, and has held academic posts in Oxford and Colorado. He is a...more

Posamentier, A.S., Pi: A Biography of the World's Most Mysterious Number (Prometheus, 2004).

Lennart Berggren, J., Borwein, J.M. and Borwein, P.B., PI: A Source Book (3rd edition, Springer-Verlag, New York, 2004).

## Accommodation

Accommodation is often available in Rewley House for those who wish to stay on the night before a course. Please contact our Residential Centre on 01865 270362 for details of availability and prices.

## Fee options

Programme Fee
Tuition fee: £60.00
Catering
Baguette: £3.50
Full lunch: £11.00

## Apply for this course

You can apply for this course in the following ways:

Apply online
to secure your place on this course now
Apply by post, email or fax