By: Tim Studebaker


Thursday is pi day!  No, no, no. Not the kind you eat.  That has its own day on January 23rd.  This time it's all about the irrational, never-ending number, important to mathematicians, and scientists.

Barrington High School Senior Annika Kelly, the winner of today’s competition, rattles off the beginning of pi, "3.141592653589793238462643383279502."

So, why is today pi day?  Look at the first few digits: 3.14: 3/14, March 14th.  It’s basically a holiday in the math world, and what better way to celebrate than by bringing high school math students together to solve problems while competing against each other for cash.

The American Mathematical Society, headquartered in Providence, sponsors the "Who Wants to be a Mathematician" contest, hoping to encourage students to see the value in math.

American Mathematical Society Executive Director Dr. Catherine Roberts says, "Mathematics is an essential tool in our society.  It helps us advance science and engineering."

For the first time in Rhode Island, more girls than boys qualified for the competition.

Roberts says, "We know that the only way to keep our edge in mathematics and to keep this discipline forward moving is to encourage and invite and include everyone who has an interest and a talent in mathematics."

We caught up with Kelly after her big win.

Kelly says, "I'm going to Princeton University next year.  I'm majoring in operations research and financial engineering, which is kind of a mouthful.  But basically, I want to do a lot of work with stochasticity and modeling and those types of problems."

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