A Math Debate; Pi or Tau? (locked)

29 posts

Flag Post

Pi = 3.14

Schools really over teach the things that need to be tought, half the things we learn in school, we don’t need to know in life. That’s why you guys should think of a career when your young so you know what you’ll need to know.

 
Flag Post

relative… its the same thing….

 
Flag Post

Not quite sure what “equals a full circle” is exactly meaning here. Nor that Pi is “3.14” Pi the is the constant of a circles diameter to its circumference, Tau is the related, and double, value for the constant of a circles radius to it’s diameter.

Really the whole thing is silly. It has twice the value, it is not drastically simplifying anything on that basis. I’ve never seen a very compelling case for Tau and as a newer association it has some very serious problems in practical applications.

 
Flag Post

None is fundamentally different that the other. They are categorically identical. After all, it is impossible to express one by any means without the inclusion of the other. In some sense, since they refer to one another in their definitions, they are one and the same. However, I don’t lean towards one over another. Really, as Ungeziefer noted, the issue is a facile and trifling matter at most and should be laid to rest with minimal consideration. In the end, either will work and neither will fail to fulfill the extended representation of those principles.

 
Flag Post

If it is indeed a debate, perhaps you should link to an article that fleshes the problem out.

 
Flag Post

Here is some more useful information
The OP is talking about radians, by the way.

 
Flag Post

Yes, as JohnRulz clarified, when i said “2pi is a full circle” i meant radians. As you know 2pi radians are 360 degrees so one full circle rotation. That’s what i meant. Some mathematicians argue that that plays poorly with kids because if you use tau instead of pi it is one tau radians (let’s say radians) equal to 360 degrees. So they argue that it is more “natural” and kids can understand it better.

@Jantonaitis, i am not aware of an official article about it but there is a lot of talk in youtube in math related videos, like the one JohnRulz provided (the same user of the video that JohnRulz provided has some other vids about the matter as well, you could look around them), or such as this one . There are also online articles that i have seen over time but i didn’t keep them around so can’t provide them right now.

I agree that this “problem”, or debate is in its heart a really pointless and silly one, one that gives people a stepping stone to say that mathematicians have weird habbits and ideas.

 
Flag Post

To be honest…I was lost at 2.45 in the video you linked. I’m not a math guy, I’d have taken the lowest math course available at my high school if it weren’t unacceptable for college admission. Since then, I’ve never looked back.

That being said, I don’t think the debate is useless. I don’t understand it, but then, there’s plenty of normative logic philosophy debates I don’t understand, and that’s just within my field of vision.

 
Flag Post

The fact that tau relies on pi to merely exist as a numeric figure is proof enough of pi being more important and thus it is proof enough for it to not be replaced.

 
Flag Post
Originally posted by JaumeBG:

The fact that tau relies on pi to merely exist as a numeric figure is proof enough of pi being more important and thus it is proof enough for it to not be replaced.

That just depends on how you define a value. In math I can say that 1=3/3. Does that mean that 3 is “more important” then 1?

 
Flag Post
That just depends on how you define a value.

That isn’t necessarily true in this case. Pi and tau have objective, universal values. Tau will always be 2π.

And I wouldn’t say 3 is more important than 1, no. But I would say that 1 is “more important” in a way than say, e.g., 9.23475099093939992. So I do believe some figures are “more important” than others.

How can tau “replace pi” if it cannot exist without it?

 
Flag Post

It can exist without. We usually define pi as being the circumference/diameter of a circle. If we define Tau as being the circumference/radius of a circle then Tau can exist without pi.

 
Flag Post

The problem is that multiplication is more fundamental than division. Those who learnt mathematics know that multiplication is defined from addition, and then division is defined as the “inverse operation of multiplication”.

Another angle to look at this:

2π — 2 characters
τ/2 — 3 characters

Now, for radian, this difference may not have a big impact. But look at this:

eiτ/2= -1 and ei2π= 1

In more advanced calculations, fraction bars will start to clog up the equations.

And that’s why I would like to have pi for dinner.

 
Flag Post
Originally posted by Pulsaris:

The problem is that multiplication is more fundamental than division. Those who learnt mathematics know that multiplication is defined from addition, and then division is defined as the “inverse operation of multiplication”.

Technically, all operations can be defined using only addition. After all, computers only “know” how to do addition, nothing else.
But that’s besides the point.

 
Flag Post

I don’t really have a strong opinion on the matter. I am inclined to agree that Tau is a bit less confusing than pi from a trig stand point. However, for most of what I’m doing, the change to Tau would be at worst annoying and at best no different.

That being said, I’d heavily prefer Tau over degrees. I think Tau makes much more sense than degrees.

 
Flag Post

This “debate” doesn’t even exist. We use Pi, okay? No scientist gives a shit about these views that we need something more aesthetic. Pi is plenty aesthetic. Want to know what Tau is? Time constants, opacity, leptons, etc.

No mathematician argues that Tau should be used in place of Pi. I wish the media would stop polluting the minds of the public.

 
Flag Post
Originally posted by DarkBaron:

This “debate” doesn’t even exist. We use Pi, okay? No scientist gives a shit about these views that we need something more aesthetic. Pi is plenty aesthetic. Want to know what Tau is? Time constants, opacity, leptons, etc.

No mathematician argues that Tau should be used in place of Pi. I wish the media would stop polluting the minds of the public.

No, actually, there are mathematicians who argue just that. Go to youtube on the channel called “Numberphile”, you will find a video about it. In fact a link to this video was posted in this thread too.
Furthermore, you say “Want to know what Tau is? Time constants, opacity, leptons, etc.” Please don’t confuse mathematical symbolism with symbolism used in physics. The two don’t go hand to hand all the time.

 
Flag Post

No, no there are not mathematicians who argue it. I will contest this point till my death. The first video by ViHart is nice… until you realize she does not hold a degree in mathematics. She is not a mathematician, despite being the daughter of a mathematician.

Numberphile is not a mathematician either. He holds no degree in math.

While the videos may look nice and flashy and informative, they are not from experts who actually use this shit in research. This debate does not, never has, and never will exist in the mathematical community. You want to know what is being debated in the realm of mathematics? How to teach mathematics so that we don’t breed idiots who avoid math like it’s the plague.

Math and Physics do go hand-in-hand all the time. Professors of mathematics are well versed in Physics, and professors of Physics must, by definition, feel extremely comfortable with math and have a mastery of it. Now sure, you won’t find many physicists studying braid topology, or many mathematicians studying quantum field theory, but we do use universal symbols like Pi for pi, t for time, a for acceleration, Tau for time constants (like in Partial differential equations), etc. We don’t have two independent systems of symbols. Yes, sometimes it gets a little convoluted and we may change a variable for something simple like the wave equation (constant is k vs. c), but for certain things it is always the same variable, and most times you see the wave equation it is c, because it represents the speed of light in vacuo.

 
Flag Post

I think that tau should replace pi because all of those retarded “PI SOUNDS LIEK PIE ROFLMAO!!!!!” jokes that math nerds make are obnoxious.

 
Flag Post

speaking of obnoxious math nerds

 
Flag Post

RIP education in the world’s greatest country. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

 
Flag Post
Originally posted by DarkBaron:

No, no there are not mathematicians who argue it. I will contest this point till my death. The first video by ViHart is nice… until you realize she does not hold a degree in mathematics. She is not a mathematician, despite being the daughter of a mathematician.

Numberphile is not a mathematician either. He holds no degree in math.

While the videos may look nice and flashy and informative, they are not from experts who actually use this shit in research. This debate does not, never has, and never will exist in the mathematical community. You want to know what is being debated in the realm of mathematics? How to teach mathematics so that we don’t breed idiots who avoid math like it’s the plague.

Math and Physics do go hand-in-hand all the time. Professors of mathematics are well versed in Physics, and professors of Physics must, by definition, feel extremely comfortable with math and have a mastery of it. Now sure, you won’t find many physicists studying braid topology, or many mathematicians studying quantum field theory, but we do use universal symbols like Pi for pi, t for time, a for acceleration, Tau for time constants (like in Partial differential equations), etc. We don’t have two independent systems of symbols. Yes, sometimes it gets a little convoluted and we may change a variable for something simple like the wave equation (constant is k vs. c), but for certain things it is always the same variable, and most times you see the wave equation it is c, because it represents the speed of light in vacuo.

You are wrong in several points here.
1) People in Numberphile are mathematicians. In fact one of the guys in the “Pi Vs Tau” debate is at Queen Mary College and is a mathematician. He is the guy talking in favor of Pi, as for the other guy i wasn’t able to find info on him.
2) If you paid attention you would have noticed that the people arguing in favor of Tau argue in most cases that it will help the teaching process especially in trigonometry. In fact, here is an article from yahoo news, maybe you should check it to see that there are mathematicians who argue for Tau over Pi. http://news.yahoo.com/mathematicians-want-goodbye-pi-154001699.html
3) Math and Physics don’t go hand to hand all the time. Physicists rarely know in dept mathematical definitions and much less proofs and the math they care about are the math they need for their physics, aka applied mathematics. Similarly mathematicians aren’t required to understand the physical applications of their mathematics. A mathematician doesn’t need to know that integrals are a method to compute for example the work of a force. Mathematicians are content with knowing that integrals are used for finding the surface under a curve.
4) Your sumbols case is pretty much meaningless since as you admited many symbols are used in many different cases. So having one extra meaning for Tau as being the constant 2 times pi doesn’t mean that any more extreme confusion will be created than it exists already.

As i mentioned before i am not pro Tau in this debate, i find it pretty dumb. But your arguments aren’t as solid as you may wish them to be.

 
Flag Post
1) People in Numberphile are mathematicians. In fact one of the guys in the “Pi Vs Tau” debate is at Queen Mary College and is a mathematician. He is the guy talking in favor of Pi, as for the other guy i wasn’t able to find info on him.

This is not a mathematically sanctioned event—and if he was, indeed, a mathematician, it makes sense he said nobody cares about it. Anyway I said that no mathematician argues for Tau, so even if he is a mathematician, all this does is enforce my point. Thanks.

2) If you paid attention you would have noticed that the people arguing in favor of Tau argue in most cases that it will help the teaching process especially in trigonometry.

News articles are not acceptable sources for what is going on in the academic community. Why the hell do you people on this forum think these news articles account for anything? They’re nonexperts who, almost always, misinterpret what they report. For example—neutrinos faster than light? Nah. LHC going to blow up the universe? No… They are not acceptable sources.

I’ve gone to mathematics conferences aplenty, and I can tell you that their biggest concern isn’t some garbage like making the radians of a circle tautological, it’s how to teach long division in an intuitive way. Their problems stem from 3rd grade arithmetic, not advanced high school geometry.

3) Math and Physics don’t go hand to hand all the time. Physicists rarely know in dept mathematical definitions and much less proofs and the math they care about are the math they need for their physics, aka applied mathematics. Similarly mathematicians aren’t required to understand the physical applications of their mathematics. A mathematician doesn’t need to know that integrals are a method to compute for example the work of a force. Mathematicians are content with knowing that integrals are used for finding the surface under a curve.

And I suppose you’re an absolute authority on this topic, despite the fact I hold a B.S. degree in mathematics and a PhD in Physics. I’ve worked with professors in both the mathematics and physics department, and attended multiple conference in both subjects. Physicists must know definitions of a host of mathematical tools, like integrals, multiple integrals, abstract algebra, linear algebra, differential equations, partial differential equations, fourier transforms, fourier series expansions, etc. A physicist may not be as thorough in their definitions and proofs, but I can tell you that they are every bit as rigorous and well understood.

As far as saying mathematicians aren’t required to know that integrals are used for physical phenomena—that is just plain wrong. Every mathematics professor I’ve seen offers, when available, a physical correspondent to whatever they present or use. Hell, in basic Numerical Analysis textbooks, the wave equations is often presented as the heat equation, and it’s explained that it’s difficult to solve exactly. You are right that Mathematicians are content knowing that something like an integral is the area under the curve…. so are Physicists. We (both) just evaluate what curve we’re using. You have no idea what you’re talking about here.

4) Your sumbols case is pretty much meaningless since as you admited many symbols are used in many different cases. So having one extra meaning for Tau as being the constant 2 times pi doesn’t mean that any more extreme confusion will be created than it exists already.

… No I didn’t? Look, I’m sorry your reading comprehension is so poor, but I said there are, on occasions, a slight difference in a variable used, and that is only if it’s a very low level introduction course and the physical details are omitted to ensure maximal retention for a method, or if it’s an extremely abstract field with few physical correspondents known, and thus the mathematicians will among themselves alter the notation. I’ve already said that every single constant or variable is widely, widely agreed upon as a standard. No mathematician uses F for mass and H for force. Likewise, mathematicians also use Tau for time constants and tensors.

I’m not going to comment on the 2nd part of the use of Tau, because I’m not even going to humor this nonexistent debate. I don’t care what side you argue for—I don’t care if you prefer the taste of watermelons to cookies.

 
Flag Post
Originally posted by DarkBaron:
1) People in Numberphile are mathematicians. In fact one of the guys in the “Pi Vs Tau” debate is at Queen Mary College and is a mathematician. He is the guy talking in favor of Pi, as for the other guy i wasn’t able to find info on him.

This is not a mathematically sanctioned event—and if he was, indeed, a mathematician, it makes sense he said nobody cares about it. Anyway I said that no mathematician argues for Tau, so even if he is a mathematician, all this does is enforce my point. Thanks.

He argues against it so therefore someone must argue in favor of it. Unless you believe that that guy is psychotic or something. Also, if you visit the page of numberphile.com you will find the short bios of the people appearing in the vids.

2) If you paid attention you would have noticed that the people arguing in favor of Tau argue in most cases that it will help the teaching process especially in trigonometry.

News articles are not acceptable sources for what is going on in the academic community. Why the hell do you people on this forum think these news articles account for anything? They’re nonexperts who, almost always, misinterpret what they report. For example—neutrinos faster than light? Nah. LHC going to blow up the universe? No… They are not acceptable sources.


I’ve gone to mathematics conferences aplenty, and I can tell you that their biggest concern isn’t some garbage like making the radians of a circle tautological, it’s how to teach long division in an intuitive way. Their problems stem from 3rd grade arithmetic, not advanced high school geometry.


That article didn’t go in debt in explaining the debate so your argument about newsreports being badly written is out of line. It’s like saying that covering a car accident is impossible because reporters are idiots. Also, many mathematicians were mentioned on the article. You could search for publications they have made on the matter.
3) Math and Physics don’t go hand to hand all the time. Physicists rarely know in dept mathematical definitions and much less proofs and the math they care about are the math they need for their physics, aka applied mathematics. Similarly mathematicians aren’t required to understand the physical applications of their mathematics. A mathematician doesn’t need to know that integrals are a method to compute for example the work of a force. Mathematicians are content with knowing that integrals are used for finding the surface under a curve.

And I suppose you’re an absolute authority on this topic, despite the fact I hold a B.S. degree in mathematics and a PhD in Physics. I’ve worked with professors in both the mathematics and physics department, and attended multiple conference in both subjects. Physicists must know definitions of a host of mathematical tools, like integrals, multiple integrals, abstract algebra, linear algebra, differential equations, partial differential equations, fourier transforms, fourier series expansions, etc. A physicist may not be as thorough in their definitions and proofs, but I can tell you that they are every bit as rigorous and well understood.


As far as saying mathematicians aren’t required to know that integrals are used for physical phenomena—that is just plain wrong. Every mathematics professor I’ve seen offers, when available, a physical correspondent to whatever they present or use. Hell, in basic Numerical Analysis textbooks, the wave equations is often presented as the heat equation, and it’s explained that it’s difficult to solve exactly. You are right that Mathematicians are content knowing that something like an integral is the area under the curve…. so are Physicists. We (both) just evaluate what curve we’re using. You have no idea what you’re talking about here.


I am an electrical and computer engineering student, i may not hold a title yet but i am in no way clueless. Also, holding a PhD doesn’t magically make you an absolute authority, as you may want to think it does. Unless you are also the reincarnation of Gauss or Euler or Hilbert? Anyway, my point is that mathematicians even though they are aware of some applications of what they teach in physics they aren’t generally well versed in physics in total. Much the same way that physicists can never explain mathematical “tools” in such detail and accuracy as good mathematicians can. Note, i am speaking in general. I don’t doubt that there are many people who are interested in both fields and knowledgable. But nowadays because of how huge science has become those people are the exceptions, not the rule. It’s not the days of Newton and Gauss who were great in both maths and physics.
4) Your sumbols case is pretty much meaningless since as you admited many symbols are used in many different cases. So having one extra meaning for Tau as being the constant 2 times pi doesn’t mean that any more extreme confusion will be created than it exists already.

… No I didn’t? Look, I’m sorry your reading comprehension is so poor, but I said there are, on occasions, a slight difference in a variable used, and that is only if it’s a very low level introduction course and the physical details are omitted to ensure maximal retention for a method, or if it’s an extremely abstract field with few physical correspondents known, and thus the mathematicians will among themselves alter the notation. I’ve already said that every single constant or variable is widely, widely agreed upon as a standard. No mathematician uses F for mass and H for force. Likewise, mathematicians also use Tau for time constants and tensors.


You missed my point, completely. I didn’t say that mathematicians change the symbolism, i only said that the same symbol can be used to represent many different things. Which is true, is it not? So basically what i say is that using one more definition for the symbol Tau as a constant equal to 2 times pi isn’t going to introduce a world of confusion. Clear?

I’m not going to comment on the 2nd part of the use of Tau, because I’m not even going to humor this nonexistent debate. I don’t care what side you argue for—I don’t care if you prefer the taste of watermelons to cookies.

Then why even reply to this thread in the first place? I mean, besides to feed your ego as a holder of a degree in mathematics and a PhD in Physics?

PS
I wanted to mention this seperately.

I’ve gone to mathematics conferences aplenty, and I can tell you that their biggest concern isn’t some garbage like making the radians of a circle tautological, it’s how to teach long division in an intuitive way. Their problems stem from 3rd grade arithmetic, not advanced high school geometry.


Hopefully, if you teach, you leave your high horse outside the classroom. Because it’s not only that mathematics are complex that make the children struggle with it. It’s also the inability of most teachers to take their time and try to reach down to the kids and help them understand. And let me tell you, a person with an attitude like he has solved the Riemann Hypothesis is not going to be any good explaining to kiddies and make them understand and love mathematics.

 
Flag Post

Ah, thanks that clears it up a lot. That’s your problem: you’re an engineer student. I don’t take anything away from engineer students who succeed, but there are a vast, vast majority of engineer students who struggle to get through the system with a 2.0 GPA in tact.

Engineering majors simply do not teach critical thinking that well. You’re taught to rely on calculators for graphing, and taking limits. I shit you not, I know an engineer whose GPA is around a 3.1, and he actually told me, mid sentence that he had to “calculate the right-hand rule.”

Their reading comprehension is also exceedingly poor, as shown by general GRE test statistics. I mean hell, your entire post consisted of two arguments:

1) no u
2) Repeating what you said to the debunking of the original statement.

Practice hard for the GRE, is all I can tell you. I also recommend spending twice as much time as you normally do on your assignments—if your academic performance is reflected at all by your arguments here, I really hope you dedicate yourself thoroughly.