American Pi

AMERICAN π

Lyrics by Lawrence M. Lesser
Sung to the tune of “American Pie” by Don McLean

American Pi — Listen

A long, long time ago, I can still remember
How that math sure used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had the chance, I would ace Geometry class
And make my parents happy for a while.
But some math books made me shiver –
Dry procedures, all delivered:
Nothing past the rational, and nothing transcendental.
I can’t remember if I cried, reading 3.14159.
But something touched me deep inside
The day I learned of π. So…

CHORUS:
Find, find the value of π, starts 3 point 14159
A good ol’ fraction you may hope to define
But the decimal never dies, the decimal never dies…

In the Bible we do see the circle ratio appears as 3, or a little more
That genius Archimedes found with polygons, an upper bound
Of 22/7 for sure!
The Chinese got it really keen: 355 over 113
More joined the action with continued fractions.
In the 1700s, my oh my, the English coined the symbol π,
Then Lambert showed it was a lie to look for rational π.
He started singing… (repeat chorus)

Late 1800s, Lindemann shared why a circle can’t be squared
But some folks tried anyway—
Like the Indiana doctor who said π was 4 or 3.2
And thought his proof should be a law someday.
The Indiana congressmen read his paper there and then
A bill got through the House by a vote unanimous!
But in the end, the statesmen cried, “It’s not for us to decide,”
So the bill was left to die like the quest for rational π
Let’s try singing… (repeat chorus)