Happy Tau Day, everyone! Every June 28, a rogue fleet of math nerds makes its case for the abolition of arguably the most important irrational number in the world: pi. These men and women of the "tau" are adamant that pi, the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle, should be replaced by tau, the circumference of a circle divided by the radius. They contend not that 3.14159265, the value of pi, is wrong, but that it's the wrong number to associate with a circle because "circles are more naturally defined by their radius than diameter," Michael Hartl, author of the Tau Manifesto, told CNN. So who are these math nerds and what's the intellectual underpinning of their movement? A brief review of the key players.
Bob Palais, the godfather By now, Tau Day has been celebrated for at least 10 years. The underpinnings of the movement came from Bob Palais, a research professor of mathematics at the University of Utah. In 2001, he wrote an essay called 'Pi Is Wrong' [pdf]. In his opening salvo against Pi, he wrote "I am not questioning its irrationality, transcendence, or numerical calculation, but the choice of the number on which we bestow a symbol conveying deep geometric significant. The proper value, which does deserve all the reverence and adulation bestowed upon the current imposter, is the number now unfortunately known as 2π."