Pursued by Pi

Posted on February 25th, 2011 by

Pi Bar: Open daily at 3:14 PM

Pi Bar: Open daily at 3:14 PMWhile on sabbatical leave, I figured I’d do some research on pi, which I frequently teach about. And since I had no reason to stick around for classes (or the snowstorm that was postponing classes that day), I’d head to the Mission District of San Francisco. The photo documents the research result I achieved there: I discovered that the Pi Bar opens daily at 3:14 PM. (The Pi Bar is aptly named; they serve pizza with their beer.)

Back when I was a grad student, this neighborhood was the Mexican-American barrio.  As with many neighborhoods, newer immigrant groups have displaced older ones, and in particular the immigrants from Silicon Valley have displaced those from Mexico. The guy next to me at the bar was trying to impress his companion with stories of his college days: how he had written the motion-planning and obstacle-avoidance code for a robot arm.

I left the Mission figuring that I had seen the last of pi, but I was wrong. I went over to Berkeley to check into my hotel, and what did I see, straight across Telegraph Avenue from my room, but the facade of Willard Middle School, as shown in the second photo. And so I was unexpectedly able to achieve a second research result in a single trip: I conclusively documented that middle school students exhibit greater precision than beer geeks. (On the other hand, they do appear to be a bit hazy regarding symmetry.)3.14159 displayed at Willard Middle School, Berkeley, CA


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