'Pi' and 'Tau'

Back in April 1976, I found myself in a Singapore classroom courtesy of the government's scholarship program. I had undergone about three months of secondary education in Berakas English School before that. When I arrived in Singapore, the classes were getting ready for the mid-year exam in May. The classes were revising their lessons. That was when I discovered there were indeed differences between the syllabus of the two education system. In most cases we coped but some I learnt the hard way. In Brunei, we were learning 'modern' maths but in Singapore, they concentrated on the traditional maths. The 'modern' maths was more like playing with maths and apparently was another experiment. However that 'modern' maths did not teach me what the formula for the area in a circle, all I heard was five r squared. Eventually I learnt five was not five but 'pi' and r was the radius. That 'pi' was versatile but difficult to pin down in exact value.

Sometime last week I came across a news article entitled "mathematicians want to say goodbye to pi" and I was thinking huh?

Apparently the proponents of anti-pi is pushing for another factor to be used called 'tau'. 'Tau' is equal to '2 pi'. The idea is that with 2 pi, errors can be made as sometimes the users forget the 2 whereas if it just one factor which is tau, errors can be reduced. According to the yahoo news, "tau advocates have said they've noticed a significant improvement in the ability of students to learn math, especially geometry and trigonometry where factors of 2pi show up the most, when the students learn with tau rather than pi."

I don't know about you, remembering 'pi' was hard enough, 'tau' is not that much easier.


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