PI: Discovery to Application – 1900 years

Archimedes pi
Image via Wikipedia

Mathematicians celebrate PI day on March 14 to honour of the number 3.14.  PI day was founded by Physicist Larry Shaw at the San Fransisco Exploratorium on March 14, 1989.

Greek mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse (287 to 212 B.C.) was the first to calculate the value of PI, however, its use became wide-spread only after it was adopted by Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737.

Concept to Customer

Could you imagine the conversation in today’s terms.  “So, whose idea is this PI thing anyway?”  “Well there was this guy who lived just before the time of Christ and he …”

I find it interesting that 1,900 years had passed before PI became part of mainstream math.  Today “concept-to-customer” cycles are measured in much shorter terms:  days, weeks, months and at most a span of no more than a few years.

Now the never-ending value of PI appears as a simple button on every calculator and as  “one of many” functions known to virtually every computer software and / or operating system.

For those who are not aware, PI is used in various math, science, and engineering calculations and is most widely used to calculate the areas and volumes of circular geometric shapes.

Lessons Learned?

The founders of science, math, and physics fought and argued even under the threat of death to share what we take for granted today.  I am also amazed that their seemingly limitless imagination was not bound by the extremely limited resources available to them at the time.

They dared to dream and lived to tell about it.

When we look back through history, we see numerous sketches, concepts, and ideas that simply were not feasible at the time and if not recorded or documented would otherwise have been lost.  Record / document your ideas no matter how far fetched some of them may be – a valuable lesson learned, but seldom applied.

A knowledge database can be used to store ideas and concepts for future projects where implementation may be more practical or feasible.  Many times I hear teams discussing options they once considered but limited documentation only exists for the one selected.

I’m sure Archimedes had his reasons for calculating PI, but I have to laugh just a little as I wonder what he could have been thinking.  “I’m not sure what this means exactly but I’m sure someone will find a use for it someday.  We’ll just put that over here for now.”  And, 1,900 years later, Euler saying, “You’ll never believe what I found today.”

Remembering our roots.

Perhaps we don’t always give credit where credit is due and often overlook the true origins of our final solution.  On that note, Albert Einstein was also born on March 14, 1879 and would be celebrating his 132nd birthday as of this writing.  Oddly, his date of birth is loosely related to PI, 3.14.

I can only imagine what today’s technology would’ve done to accelerate progress during that time of discovery.  As I pondered that thought in the context of PI, I realized that they were already way ahead of their time and society just couldn’t or refused to keep up.

Time for some real PIe.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Vergence Analytics
Twitter:  @Versalytics

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