The Joy of Pi (Penguin Press Science) Paperback – 24 Sep 1998
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This is just one of the many little pleasantries that David Blatner has for readers in this most attractive little gem of an exploration of 3.1459.... There's also some pi poetry, some of which is not half bad. There are pi mnemonic devices, words strung out in prose or rhyme with the length of the individual letters to remind one of the string of pi digits. For example, "How I wish I could calculate pi." Or, "Sir, I bear a rhyme excelling/In mystic force and magic spelling...." In the same chapter, "Memorizing Pi" Blatner recalls some of the great mnemonic exploits of pi-dom, culminating in the incredible feat of one "Hiroyki Goto, who in February 1995 spent just over nine hours reciting 42,00 digits of pi from memory." (p. 111)
One of the questions I always had about pi was, Are the digits random? The number is irrational and transcendent so apparently the numbers never repeat. To me that always sounded like something close to a definition of a random sequence. Here I learned that in the first million digits, there are 99,959 zeros, 99,758, ones, 100,026 twos, 100,229 threes, 100,230 fours, 100,359 fives, 99,548 sixes, 99,800 sevens, 99,985 eights, and 100,106 nines. I would consider that distribution indistinguishable from random. Incidentally the first one million digits are printed in the book, albeit in such small type that you'll need a magnifying glass to make out the numbers.
But could the seeming randomness of the digits change as more and more places are calculated? Apparently not since "now, at over 51 billion digits on record, it appears that there's no statistically relevant difference..." between any of the numbers. (p.Read more ›
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