Since we are PI (Potomac Indexing), we’ve always held the mathematical constant, π, close to our hearts and use it in our logo. So, today being π day, we are duly celebrating the usefulness of this great and ultimately impossible-to-pin-down number (more on π’s wonderfully irrational and transcendental qualities at Wikipedia, here).
As indexers and taxonomists, we work with natural language every day (the kind used to write this blog and discuss with friends and colleagues). We also live with the “imperfect subtlety” that is natural language and which creates the many judgment calls we make about what subjects are being discussed in a book or what keywords people would really look up in a search function. We know that there is no way to always provide an exact correlation between a term and the concept it belongs to, or even to know if this mention of a name provides a complete reference for that person’s role in a book. And often there are multiple options to come up with the “best” term for something. Natural languages just provide so many nuances and options as semantic targets that getting a bullseye still requires the also-nuanced intelligence of the human mind (although I’d be interested in a test to see if IBM’s Watson could create an index comparable to one created by a human).
And so with pi: it helps us to measure a circle, but we can never make it completely accurate. There will always be a bit of a “guesstimate” involved. But pi’s usefulness continues to allow us to better understand the geometry of our universe, even without absolute accuracy. 🙂
Celebrating PI Day Around the Web
As indexers, we’re more word people than number people, so we loved this “pi-ku” over at Student Advisor. Includes some great Pi Day links.
Over at Grammarly, more Pi fun for word nerds. My favorite: What is the official animal of Pi Day? The pi-thon.
If you are seeing this post late, or live outside the States and therefore write dates month/day, don’t worry! You can celebrate Pi Day again on July 22, on Pi Approximation Day (22/7). This Pi Day comic about it gets me every time.
Do you have a favorite pi pun or joke? Or just a favorite pie (mine’s key lime)? Let us know!