Search results - Tau vs Pi: Fixing a 250-year-old Mistake
|Type||Day and Weekend|
|Address||Rewley House 1 Wellington Square Oxford OX1 2JA|
|Dates||Sat 1 Jun 2013|
|Application status||Applications being accepted|
|Course contact||If you have any questions about this course, please email email@example.com.|
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OverviewLeonhard 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 details9.45am 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
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
Dr Robert Lockhart
Role: Director of Studies
Prof Robin Whitty
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
Recommended readingPosamentier, 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).
AccommodationAccommodation 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.
- Programme Fee
- Tuition fee: £60.00
- Baguette: £3.50
- Full lunch: £11.00