Fields Medal winner Cedric Villani explains the many mysteries of Pi

By Dhananjay Khadilkar - RFI
Europe  Dhananjay Khadilkar
© Dhananjay Khadilkar

March 14 is celebrated as Pi day every year. The date 3/14, corresponds to the first three digits of the famous mathematical constant.

According to Cédric Villani, holder of the IHES-Université de Lyon Chair in Analysis, pi is an emblematic number and a key cornerstone in many subjects of mathematics. 

"Many people believe that mathematics is all about numbers and computation. That is not really true. Mathematics gives a very important role to numbers. But the most important thing in mathematics is about concepts and proofs, reasoning, ideas and abstractions. Pi is one of these abstractions,"  he told RFI's Dhananjay Khadilikar.

He said even though pi can be defined in a simple manner as the ratio of the circumference of a perfect circle to two times its radius, it is something universal. 

"It appears in all kinds of formulas, sometimes not seen related," he said citing the examples of pi appearing in the study of series, statistics and polynomial equations. 

He said what makes pi mysterious is that pi is not just irrational, but even transcendental. "It's a fascinating number and one of the backbones of the mathematics skeleton.” But there's more...