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Mathematical Sciences

Ancient Approximations of Pi

Date: 3:30pm - 4:30pm PST February 4, 2016 Location: John Howard 254

John Howard 254

Elijah Barnes ’18
Mathematics and Physics Major


How do we find the area of a circle? Or a better question is how do we find  good approximations of Pi? Years before the formal definition of limits, an idea originated where one uses the method of exhaustion to approximate areas of circles and other shapes using n-sided polygons.

In this talk, we will delve deeper into two ancient cultures. The Greeks used this method to calculate areas and volumes, which led to Euclid’s formulas in Elements. Centuries later, Liu Hiu calculated approximations for Pi in his famous commentary on The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art.

No previous specific math knowledge is required.