MIT Takes ‘Pi Day’ Very Seriously

Throw pies at friends, recite the infinite string of numbers of Pi, and rant about its role in mathematics.

When it comes to celebrating mathematical constants, MIT takes the cake. Or pie, actually.

On the unofficial holiday “Pi Day,” an ode to the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter—3.14—which so happens to be recognized on March 14, MIT’s Admissions Office will finally let students know whether or not they were accepted to the school.

To tease out the big day the office posted the above video, which features students getting splattered with actual pies. The short clip ends with the teaser “2018s are happening,” referencing the incoming classes expected graduation date.

According to MIT officials, MIT will release “Regular Action” decisions for the class of 2018 on March 14, at 6:28 p.m. Students can check their status by logging into a special website.

Why such a precise time, you ask? It’s a hat tip to what’s known as “Tau Time,” a mathematical theory that butts heads with the concept of Pi. For the past few years, on Pi Day, MIT’s Vi Hart, who describes herself as a “recreational mathemusician,” has been making “anti-Pi” videos in support of Tau Time.

Warning: if you don’t know much about mathematics, her videos are bound to make your head spin. “This year I rant about why Pi is not special, not infinite, and relatively boring. I mean, it’s nice, I guess, if you’re into that, but [there are] so many more interesting parts of mathematics,” Hart said in a blog post about her Pi-hating sentiments.

Not only does MIT celebrate Pi Day by announcing to students that they’ve been admitted to the Cambridge institute, they also host pie-centric events on campus for both current college attendees and the general public.

On Friday afternoon, people can take part in “pie-themed” activities, such as a pie eating contest, pie baking, and Pi recitation, where contestants are challenged to repeat back as many numbers in Pi’s infinite string of digits following 3.14. There will be also an opportunity to smack your friends in the face with various pies, while its recorded on high-speed cameras.

A second event, the seventh annual “Pi Day at Ashdown,” will have a similar Pi recitation contest accompanied by pie platters galore. However, that event is strictly for MIT students.

As far as admissions go, let’s hope it runs a little bit more smoothly than it did earlier this year, when officials accidentally sent out emails to students that said they had been accepted to the school, only to backtrack on their announcement and try to patch the wounds with a lengthy apology. They could have at least mailed them a pie to take their minds off the mistake.

Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine

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