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It was first used in 1706 by William Jones. Pi was chosen as the letter to represent the number because the letter [pi] in Greek was pronounced like our letter 'p', and stands for 'perimeter'.


I believe it was William Jones, but I always thought it was chosen to symbolize the word periphery.

PopSci Staff

Close enough—nice job, Samir. Way to use that Wikipedia. The technically more correct answer is that Pi is the first letter in the Greek word peripheria, which means perimeter. I'll get you that magazine autographed by tommy the soup guy ASAP.

PopSci Staff

Woops, I mis-typed. As Jon said, peripheria stands for periphery.

PopSci Staff

Hey Samir—send your address to letters@popsci.com and I will get that autographed issue out to you. —Joe


Anyone got any interesting historical facts about pi that may be useful in a high school classroom?

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