## Not today again…

XKCD did it at the top of today’s post. The first reference to the day. I’m not going to get all ranty. I’ll just refer to my rant from last year.

Actually, I did go to an event today, but despite rather than because of the day. Jeffrey Bub was talking up at UMBC, and it gave me the chance to clothesline him and ask about convex sets and ordered linear spaces, which Howard Barnum had said he (Dr. Bub) knew something about the interpretation of as state- and measurement-spaces.

I hate numerology. Nothing that only works in base 10 has any fundamental significance. There are plenty of possible ways to measure ‘pi day’, this one is arbitrary and mathematically meaningless.

That said, it’s something we’ve decided to have fun with. It’s a moment of solidarity among those who tend to notice patterns in the world. It’s a cultural thing, not a mathematical thing. Let people have their party. There’s no need to be a snob.

It’s like any minor holiday, really. The actual source is irrelevant. It’s an agreed-upon reason to have delicious food and wish each other well. Here, have some pie and chill out.

Comment by Randall Munroe | March 16, 2008 |

I felt similarly on the morning of the 14th, but after a day of contemplation, I decided that setting aside a day (arbitrary date is fine) to celebrate a monumental tale of human intellectual struggle is a good thing. Celebrating the winter solstice is pretty much like the “sky is blue” day that you propose, anyhow :-)

The 2000 years from Archimedes’ approximation of pi to finally proving it irrational were full of great works by such as Viète, Newton, and Euler all relating to this constant.

However, I agree that the common take on pi day is certainly less reverent than my own, even “simpering stupid vacant mathematics-insulting.” But I got a couple of opportunities to explain some history to someone who (I think) left with a greater appreciation for mathematics. That’s more than a normal day.

Comment by Kenn Knowles | March 16, 2008 |

Personally, I need only the barest excuse to eat pie with a bunch of friends.

I didn’t notice it was pi-day until quite late in the afternoon, though. The bakery was out of pie. (Coincidence?)

Comment by Patricia Gordinier | March 16, 2008 |

I celebrated “Talk Like a Physicist” day instead, by delivering a presentation in which I rode roughshod over mathematical subtleties and questions of rigor.

Comment by Blake Stacey | March 17, 2008 |