Today is Pi Day! It’s March 14, which is sometimes written as 3.14, which in turn is the mathematical constant pi rounded to two decimals.
When I taught computer camp in the summer during high school (yeah, yeah), one of the other instructors was working on a project in which he was calculating pi to some incredible number of digits. He used the school’s mainframe to do this, and it was even more tedious that it sounds. Tedious, that is, if you don’t adore pi. I confess that I don’t adore it, but my colleague did, and I respected his dedication.
I know pi only to a few decimals, and I remember it only because of a cheer I learned at MIT:
I’m a Beaver, you’re a Beaver, we are Beavers all.
And when we get together, we do the Beaver call.
E to the U du dx,
E to the X dx.
Cosine, secant, tangent, sine,
Integral radical mu dv
Slipstick, sliderule, MIT.
(To explain the Beaver references: The beaver is the MIT mascot, because beavers are Nature’s engineers.)
I’ve always assumed this cheer, ridiculously geeky as it is, was unique to MIT. Today when I posted about it on Twitter, graduates of CIT and Princeton said they had learned almost the same cheers at their schools. Shocking!
I’m not sure how to trace the origin of this cheer, but be assured that I will be investigating. I notice that there’s a stronger mathematical underpinning to the MIT version than to the CIT and Princeton versions that may be significant. Developing….
Incidentally, when I attended MIT, we had competitive sports but no cheerleaders. That has changed: Please discover the MIT Cheer, "the smartest cheerleaders in the world."