14 Apr

A big piece of PI

Date: Fri, 14 Apr 95 12:14:48 PDT From: Peter Langston <psl> To: Fun_People Subject: A big piece of PI Forwarded-by: Ben Herman <b-herman@uchicago.edu> (Greyshadow) Forwarded-by: vlinders@rcl.wau.nl (Meindert de Jong) Circle Digits: A Self-Referential Story, by Michael Keith. For a time I stood pondering on circle sizes. The large computer mainframe quietly processed all of its assembly code. Inside my entire hope lay for figuring out an elusive expansion. Value: pi. Decimals expected soon. I nervously entered a format procedure. The mainframe processed the request. Error. I, again entering it, carefully retyped. This iteration gave zero error printouts in all - success. Intently I waited. Soon, roused by thoughts within me, appeared narrative mnemonics relating digits to verbiage! The idea appeared to exist but only in abbreviated fashion - little phrases typically. Pressing on I then resolved, deciding firmly about a sum of decimals to use - likely around four hundred, presuming the computer code soon halted ! Pondering these ideas, words appealed to me. But a problem of zeros did exist. Pondering more, solution subsequently appeared. Zero suggests a punctuation element. Very novel ! My thoughts were culminated. No periods. I concluded. All residual marks of punctuation - zeros. First digit expansion answer then came before me. On examining some problems unhappily arose. That imbecilic bug! The printout I possessed showed four nine as foremost decimals. Manifestly troubling. Totally every number looked wrong. Repairing the bug took much effort. A pi mnemonic with letters trully seemed good. Counting of all the letters probably should suffice. Reaching for a record would be helpful. Consequently, I continued, expecting a good final answer from computer. First number slowly displayed on the the flat screen - 3. Good. Trailing digits apparently were right also. Now my memory scheme must probably be implementable. The technique was chosen, elegant in scheme: by self reference a tale mnemonically helpful was ansured. An able title suddenly existed - "Circle Digits" . Taking pen I began. Words emanated uneasily. I desired more synonyms. Speedily I found my (alongside me) Thesaurus. Rogets is probably an essential in doing this, instantly I decided. I wrote and erased more. The Rogets clearly assisted immensely. My story proceeded (how lovely!) faultlessly. The end, above all, would soon joyfully overtake. So, this memory helper story is incontestably complete. Soon I will locate publisher. There a narrative will I trust immediately appear, producing fame. THE END. [The following introduction used to precede the story, but I moved it here to keep it from stealing the story's thunder... -psl] The following self-referential story is a mnemonic for the first 402 decimals of the number PI. As it indicates, merely count the number of letters in each word of the story (beginning with the first word, "For" , up to and including the final words, "The End") to obtain the successive decimals to PI. Any punctuation mark other than a period represents a zero digit (a period stands for no digit). Words of longer than 9 letters represent two adjacent digits (for example, a twelve-letter word represents the two digits 1-2). A digit written literally stands for the same digit in the expansion. This feature would be considered "cheating". As far as I can determine, this story estabilishes a new record length for a literary PI mnemonic, although clearly the length of such a mnemonic is limited only by the patience of the constructor. It has been checked by a computer program for correctness to the decimals of PI. (from The Mathematical Intelligencer, Vol.8 No.3, Pg.56/57) For those who want to compose even longer mnemonics using the same or similar rules, the following points may be of interest: 1. At decimal 601, the first triple-zero occours. Clearly we can handle this with the present scheme, but a little ingenuity is required. No quadruple-zeros occur within at least the first 10,000 decimals, so we don't have to concern ourselves with that possibility. 2. At decimal 772 we encounter the amazing sequence 9999998. This seven- digit group has the largest digit sum of any seven-digit group in the first million decimals! Because of the resulting requirement for seven adjacent long words, it also poses quite a challenge in encoding. We have seen pi-mnemonic sentences, poems, and now, a short story. Perhaps some day a complete novel???

© 1995 Peter Langston