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'pi' to be changed, or not?

  1. Jun 30, 2011 #1
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2011 #2
    Haven't we been living with the 'positive' charge mistake?The conventional direction of current flow as opposed to the actual direction of electron flow?I don't see their point.
  4. Jun 30, 2011 #3
    Since we live in a 3D world [itex]\pi[/itex] occurs more often multiplied by 4 so how would that help? And how would making the circumference of a circle equal to one half tau times the diameter help?

    Further, tau is already well used for other purposes.

    Perhaps these 'mathematicians' would be better employed performing some real mathematics, IMHO this is a really poor way to try to make a name for one's self.
  5. Jun 30, 2011 #4
    Video explains why it's better not to use diameter, but instead of that, the radius. So it is tau times radius.
  6. Jun 30, 2011 #5
    You or they have obviously never measured the diameter of a round bar or ball with a pair of calipers or micrometer or ruler or whatever.

    When you measure you obtain the diameter. It is not possible to directly obtain the radius of most round objects by direct measurement.

    Further in order to obtain the radius you have to also know where the centre is. This is uneccessary to obtain the diameter.
  7. Jun 30, 2011 #6


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    In any case, pi would not be changed by such a convention.
  8. Jun 30, 2011 #7


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    pi is not a convention, it is a constant. The whole discussion of a "paradigm shift" is ridiculous.
  9. Jun 30, 2011 #8
    The reason why we use what we use is because it represents something.

    Changing the way things are represented does nothing but create confusion.

    Who CARES about notation? tau vs 2pi. They both mean the same thing.

    Why create MORE confusion about math? Math is already a very difficult subject, why make it arbitrarily more difficult?
  10. Jun 30, 2011 #9
    Well, using 2pi as the fundamental constant would have the property that tau/2 is 1/2 way around the unit circle. tau/4 is 1/4 of the unit circle, etc. No matter how familiar I am with the unit circle, I always have to hesitate a microsecond to remember that pi/2 is 1/4 of the circle, etc. That's why some people think 2pi is more natural.

    Of course nobody's going to go rewrite all the textbooks. But I've often thought that 2pi should be the fundamental constant, just to make the fractions of the unit circle come out better.
  11. Jun 30, 2011 #10
    In the article, they make a point that a quarter of the circle corresponds to an angle of [itex]\pi/2[/itex], two quarters of a circle corresponds to an angle of [itex]\pi[/itex], etc... They conclude that this is confusing for children and adults alike that are trying to learn trigonometry. Referring to the point they're making, I don't think that the fact that a quarter of a circle corresponds to one fourth of pi is confusing at all. And anyone who has learned the subject learns to accept things like that. Therefore it should not be changed.
  12. Jun 30, 2011 #11
    Your accidental misstatement demonstrates the point. It IS very confusing to EVERYONE, even experienced practitioners. One quarter of the circle is pi/2; and you have to THINK about that every single time. That's the entire point of the tau discussion.
  13. Jun 30, 2011 #12
    Hehe, I meant to say half of pi.

    At any rate... The fact that a quarter of a circle corresponds to an angle of pi/2 has never been confusing to me. Moreover I don't have to think about it every single time. It's become second nature. My point is after learning that a quarter of a circle corresponds to pi/2, it becomes second nature and therefore does not need to be changed.
  14. Jun 30, 2011 #13
    Thats a bit like saying the e series of perferred values fro electronics should be changed because its hard to remember.

    A really stupid idea, go do some proper work instead
  15. Jun 30, 2011 #14
    Your own typo is the counterexample.
  16. Jun 30, 2011 #15
    It's a typo. Get over it.
  17. Jun 30, 2011 #16
    This has already been discussed before:

    I think it would probably be a good idea to switch, especially for the nice consistency of quadratic forms:
  18. Jun 30, 2011 #17


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    eli-wallach-2.jpe There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are confused by math, and those who aren't. :biggrin:

    I don't think switching over to using tau instead of pi would help the confused people understand math any better. And people who are not confused by math are able to use pi just fine.
  19. Jun 30, 2011 #18


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    QFT. This more than anything else means it won't happen. We don't use pi as a variable so that the reader won't mistake it. But tau is too established in many fields of science. No chance.

    It reminds me of using cis for the polar form rather than the complex exponential at high school. The argument for that is similar to the argument these guys are claiming.
  20. Jul 1, 2011 #19
    What's there to get over?

    You made the mistake for a reason but you're refusing (perhaps to yourself) to admit it. We know it wasn't a typo because you were spelling out your thoughts. You really did think that a "quarter" of a circle corresponds to a "fourth" of pi radians. Of course it doesn't... but it should, shouldn't it?

    The tau manifesto makes a lot of sense. Circles are usually defined by their radius, rather than their circumference, which is why formulas usually look simpler with tau rather than pi. Even trigonometric and sinusoidal formulas look simpler because they're build on rotating a radius around a geometric origin. It's too bad we didn't do this from the start...

    The real issue is whether this simplicity is worth overhauling a very well known convention. Is it? I think so. Convention isn't nearly as hard to break as one might think. Ask anyone from a metric using country. It certainly isn't easy but only one generation has to deal with it...
  21. Jul 1, 2011 #20
    Why should we change something that has been known about from the time of the egyptians and mesopotamians.

    The metric system was changed in Britain mainly because it was already being used in science as SI units, and in business and technology.
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