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Get Your Calculators (And Ovens) Ready: Super Pi Day Is Coming


In school we were all taught about the number represented by the symbol π. Our understanding of the number might be a bit foggy, but most of us remember it has something to do with a circle and that it is 3.14.  In reality, the irrational number (by definition) goes on forever, but it starts with 3.141592653. 

For the last several years, the popularity of so-called “Pi Day,” or March 14 (3/14), has been growing in the U.S., and Saturday will mark what many are calling “Super Pi Day,” where we can add the next two digits of the mathematical super number (3/14/15). And if you really want to geek out you can make sure you are near a clock at 9:26:53 a.m. (3/14/15 9:26:53).

But just thinking about the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of your car’s tire is not that much fun, so the celebration has been more about figuring the area of baked goods. Pies to be exact. 

University of Pittsburgh math professor Bard Ermentrout likes both aspects of the day.

“If it could even evoke a slight interest in mathematics, more power to it, and then if it also makes it possible to eat lots of pie, I think that’s another positive aspect,” Ermentrout said.

Just like bakers continue to create new pie recipes, mathematicians are finding new ways to use math in the real world. Scientists like Ermentrout use math to find and understand patterns in biology. Others are using math to make bank transactions safer or build algorithms to predict storms. 

“The math major is probably the best major you can have of all the majors out there in terms of future potential earnings,” Ermentrout said.

He said pi is arguably the third most important number ever discovered (right behind one and zero).

Care for a Slice of π?

Mathematicians aren't the only ones gearing up for the big day — some area bakeries are too.

The Pie Place in Mt. Lebanon is celebrating by putting cookie cut outs of “π” on various pies, and Prantl’s is making extra pies on Friday and Saturday for the celebrations.

“In the past our pie orders have definitely gone up, a lot of people come in and get a pie for the office or something like that. Now this year it is different because it is on a Saturday, so we’re expecting hopefully we get a lot of pie people coming in on Friday,” said Prantl’s Downtown Manager Diane Turner.

Eat’n Park’s Public Relations Coordinator Becky McArdle said pie sales haven’t caught on yet, “but we’re very hopeful. Hopefully this is the year with 3.14.15.”

This post has been updated to include information on area bakeries.