This is not my beautiful pi

This post from It’s Okay To Be Smart got under my skin.  The pictures, generated from the digits of pi, are pretty.  But they should not be called “visualizations” of pi, because they have nothing to do with pi!  The page also shows the results of the same algorithm applied to e and the golden ratio.  They look kind of the same.  And they would look the same applied to random digits.  Because they are visualizations of random digits, not visualizations of pi.

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6 thoughts on “This is not my beautiful pi

  1. Ryan Julian says:

    While I certainly agree that these images have very little to do with pi and most of the structure just represents properties of random sequences of digits, I think an interesting point could be made with them. If I were the artist(/programmer?), I’d make a diptych with the pi visualization on the left and the same process applied to 22/7 on the right. The 22/7 version would just show several nearby rotations of the same cycle of six digits along with one extra arc for the leading digit 3. I think that would be a great way to show students how vastly different the two numbers are to mathematicians, even though they are fairly close to each other as real numbers.

  2. I think I can one-up you here on ridiculous associations between colored pictures and mathematics. Remember in the early 90′s when Fractals (or rather, the points which lay *outside* the basin of attraction) were sometimes drawn using the entire gaudy VGA color spectrum? In the link below, Arthur C Clark imagines that he “sees” the Mandelbrot set when he closes his eyes (at 43:24, if the link doesn’t start at the right point):

  3. Yohan says:

    The tau manifesto more beautifully illustrates why transcendental numbers are beautiful.

    But they don’t have pretty colors! :)

    http://tauday.com/

  4. John Baez says:

    Algebraic numbers are beautiful… en masse:

    http://blogs.ams.org/visualinsight/2013/09/01/algebraic-numbers/

    Transcendentals are the black stuff.

    (The image may take a while to download.)

  5. JSE says:

    As previously covered on this blog!

    http://quomodocumque.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/what-do-roots-of-random-polynomials-look-like/

    But of course your thing really IS a visualization. Not just the snow on the TV screen.

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