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You may have heard of the mathematical constant pi, written numerically as 3.141592653589793. It’s a transcendental number and is celebrated worldwide on March 14 as “Pi Day.”
p was first used in 1706 by Welsh mathematician William Jones to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (we round this value to 3.14). It was later popularized by Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler.
The ancient Greek mathematical symbol pi is a favorite among math geeks and clothing designers alike. Brooklyn artist Paul Ingrisano has trademarked the symbol to brand a line of T-shirts and tank tops that feature the pixie-fringed, period-ended ratio in the form of a hat, scarf, or other accessory. The symbol has become so popular that Ingrisano says he’s received death threats and even sued websites that sell pi-themed apparel. Read on for more on the symbol’s origins, significance and applications.