(Pizza) Pi Day
Written by Lucy Black   
Monday, 14 March 2016

Pi Day is the 14th of March every year because 3.14 is the start of the infinite sequence of the digits of Pi. This year, to celebrate it, there are some math questions for you set by the famous John H. Conway.

This must be the strangest publicity stunt in the history of Pi or Pi Day and  when I heard about it I wasn't sure if it's pleasing that an international chain is marking Pi Day or not. On balance, I think it is a good thing. 

Pizza Hut has some how persuaded John Conway - yes that John Conway, the one responsible for the Life cellular automata among many other things - to set three math problems with a varying level of difficulty, from high school to Ph.D level.

As the blog says:

These word problems will be released right here on the Hut Life Blog on National Pi Day, Monday, March 14th, 2016. The problems will be up by 8 am Eastern Time, and all of the great minds of the Internet will have the chance to solve them and the chance to win 3.14 years of FREE pizza (awarded in Pizza Hut® gift cards).

Sadly the prize can only won by people living in the USA, but tempting though 3.14 years of Pizza is, I'm sure solving the problems will be more rewarding. 

Conway has a well developed sense of fun and has spent much of his time studying games and other recreational pursuits.

The blog points out:

“Pi may be irrational, but free pizza is anything but,” added Conway, who is profiled in the 2015 book, Genius at Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway. “I’m eager to challenge America with these problems and find the next great pizza-loving mathematician that can solve them.”




Pi day is essentially an opportunity to get people interested in math and perhaps even computer science. So getting a high profile business like Pizza Hut involved should be good. It is slightly surprising that the company even knows that there is a Pi as opposed to Pie but the knowledge might go even wider:

"Nobody knows “pie” like Pizza Hut, but this March 14, Pizza Hut is dropping the “e” in honor of Pi – 3.14 – everyone’s favorite irrational number.."

Hmmmm, could that be e as in e? 

But, to be more accurate, Pi is everyone's favorite transcendental number. 

Update and Bonus:

The questions are -


I’m thinking of a ten-digit integer whose digits are all distinct. It happens that the number formed by the first n of them is divisible by n for each n from 1 to 10. What is my number?


Our school’s puzzle-club meets in one of the schoolrooms every Friday after school.

Last Friday, one of the members said, “I’ve hidden a list of numbers in this envelope that add up to the number of this room.” A girl said, “That’s obviously not enough information to determine the number of the room. If you told us the number of numbers in the envelope and their product, would that be enough to work them all out?”

He (after scribbling for some time): “No.” She (after scribbling for some more time): “well, at least I’ve worked out their product.”

What is the number of the school room we meet in?”


My key-rings are metal circles of diameter about two inches. They are all linked together in a strange jumble, so that try as I might, I can’t tell any pair from any other pair.

However, I can tell some triple from other triples, even though I’ve never been able to distinguish left from right. What are the possible numbers of key-rings in this jumble?


And here is this year's rant on Pi day from Vi Hart - just watch it to understand why 3.1416 is a really good approximation to Pi.




More Information

Pizza Hut Pi Day Math Contest

The problems

Related Articles

Pi Day Of The Century 

Look And Say Numbers And Conway's Constant 

Does John Conway Hate Life? 

The Meaning of Life 

Cellular Automata - The How and Why 

It's life but not ... 

The Irrationals: A Story of the Numbers You Can't Count On 

Normal Numbers - A Video In Rhyme 


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