Happy Pi Day! It’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday.


Albert Einstein receiving his certificate of American citizenship. (Library of Congress/New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Al Aumuller)

Today is March 14th, or 3/14. And that makes it Pi Day -- the day where math nerds across the country gather to eat pie and discuss the importance of numbers. But did you know it's also Albert Einstein's birthday? The theoretical physicist whose name has become synonymous with genius was born on March 14, 1879, in what was then the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire.

Here's a quick refresher course: Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Most of us learned the abbreviated 3.14 number in grade school, but pi can be calculated out infinitely without a discernable repeating pattern. It is both irrational and transcendental.

Einstein starting working at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., in 1933 and remained associated with it until his death in 1955. Princeton now celebrates Einstein as part of an elaborate "Pi Day weekend" featuring walking tours, pie judging, pie throwing, a pizza competition, and an Einstein lookalike contest, among many other activities.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.

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Brian Fung · March 14, 2014

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