A Stunningly Simple Way To Explain Pi

by TeachThought Staff

The Digital Media Part

Among the most underappreciated gifts of digital media is animation.

Animation sounds pretty pedestrian until you imagine a world without it. At the opposite end of the spectrum of cartoons, and the more robust, Pixar-born versions of animation that include ‘motion pictures’ (a term we also take for granted), are gif animations.

GIF animations (we pronounce it “jiff”, FWIW) are comprised of a short series of images that produce simple animation. They’re useful for a variety of applications, especially where an entire video with sound isn’t necessary. Their small size compared to audio and video makes for quick loading, simpler embedding, and thus broad application.

Along with the emoticon, they’re even being used in communication. The Museum of the Moving Image explains.

“These animated GIFs consist of brief loops of bodies in motion, primarily excerpted from recognizable pop culture moments, and are used to express common ideas and emotions. Understood as gestures, they can communicate more nuance and concision than their verbal translations. While many reaction GIFs are created, deployed, and rarely seen again, some have entered a common lexicon after being regularly reposted in online communities.”

GIF animations are nascent little bits of code, only recently given ‘Word of the Year’pi definition recognition in 2012 by Oxford Dictionary. And we love them.

The ‘Visualization And Definition Of’ Pi Part

So there’s that–which brings us to the above animation that brilliantly illustrates the significance of ‘pi.’ Pi is the often-referenced mathematical concept that students may be able to quote to ten digits or even use to solve formulas, but otherwise simply don’t get. 

The Wikipedia definition for pi  is the “The number π (/paɪ/) is a mathematical constant. It is defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and it also has various equivalent definitions. … Being an irrational number, π cannot be expressed as a common fraction, although fractions such as 22/7 are commonly used to approximate it.”

And now to compliment the words, you have a simple looping moving image to really aggravate students that still, in lieu of your digital media acumen, still won’t get it.

A Stunningly Simple Way To Explain Pi