On world pi day, celebrating the mathematical constant pi, we've found the acronym UoB for the University of Birmingham in the digits of pi.
By substituting the letters of the alphabet for numbers with A as 01, B as 02, C as 03 and so on, UoB gives the string of numbers 21,15,02. This sequence can be found 127,986 digits after the decimal point in pi.
The number pi is defined as the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle, and it turns up all over mathematics. It is an irrational number, which means that it cannot be written as a fraction, and is approximately equal to 3.14159. However, when written out as a decimal in full, pi will go on forever without showing any pattern. In fact the digits of pi have more fascinating properties, as Dr Simon Goodwin, Senior Lecturer in Mathematics explains, ‘It is believed by many mathematicians that pi is a normal number, which means that any finite sequence of digits can be found in pi.’ Therefore, in fact if we looked far enough we could find the string of digits corresponding to the ‘University of Birmingham’, or even your own name within, in the digits of pi.
Whilst the digits of pi are a nice curiosity, research in Pure Mathematics at the University of Birmingham is leading the way in a variety of other areas, with world leading research groups in Algebra, Analysis and Combinatorics. The School of Mathematics at the University of Birmingham was recently ranked 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2014.