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UT Dallas CS Celebrates Pi Day With The Mathematical Sciences Department

Earlier this month on March 19th, the UT Dallas CS Department and the Mathematical Sciences Department celebrated national Pi day with a series of lectures, pizzas, pies, mathematical interaction games, mathematical models, and other fun activities. Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world, however due to spring break falling on national Pi Day the event was postponed till the 19th. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. The event was organized by the Mathematical Sciences Department and co-sponsored by the UT Dallas Computer Science Department.

To celebrate the international holiday, both departments hosted a series of lectures given by members of the UT Dallas Computer Science Department, Mathematical Sciences Department, NVIDIA, and the undergraduate student members of the UT Dallas Undergrad Mathematical Contest in Modeling Team.

The 2017 Pi Day included the following talks:

  • “Welcome remarks about history of Pi and the Pi Day,” given by Dr. Vladimir Dragovic, Head Dallas Mathematical Science Department
  • “Sparse Approximate Hulls,” given by Dr. Benjamin Raichel,  UT Dallas CS Professor
  • “Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Driving,” given by Branislav Kisacanin of NVIDIA
  • “Self-Driving Cars And Traffic Flow,” given by Tra Ngo and Russel Hart, Mathematical Sciences undergraduate students and members of the UT Dallas Undergrad Mathematical Contest in Modeling team
  • “What is a random number?” Given by Ed Hooten from the UT Dallas Mathematical Sciences Department
  • “How wrong is the wrong answer?” given by by Dr. Maxim Arnold, UT Dallas Mathematical Sciences Professor

Pi Day has been observed in many ways, including eating pie and discussing the significance of the number π, due to a pun based on the words “pi” and “pie” being homophones in English. While keeping with the tradition of Pi Day, attendees were served pizza and pies following the talks along with mathematical interaction games, mathematical models and other fun activities which had been planned in advance by UT Dallas Mathematical Science Professors John Zweck and Paul Stanford.

Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.

The UT Dallas Pi Day celebrations would not have been possible if it were not for its organizers Drs. Yifei Lou, Vish Ramakrishna, Maxim Arnold, Julie Sutton, Gopal Gupta, Vladimir Dragovic, and Ms. Lorre Antoine.

Click here to learn more about Pi Day.


The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 2,100 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,000 MS master’s students, 150 PhD students, and 86 faculty members, as of Fall 2016. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.

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