Pi Day Word Play

This post was provided by our math guru Patrick Vennebush, who originally posted on his blog Math Jokes for Mathy Folks. You can see the original post and more here.

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A Cool Quick Trick for Pi Day

[This trick] was attributed to Martin Gardner on a web site, but I can’t verify the source. I think I’ve read every book by MG, and I’ve never seen it before.

Anyway, here’s the trick.


Write all 26 letters of the alphabet, but start with the letter J:


Then, remove all the letters that have vertical symmetry:

JKL   N   PQRS            Z   BCDEFG

Now, count the letters that remain in each subset: 3 1 4 1 6.


When I did this trick at a K?12 math teachers’ conference recently, I wrote the numbers under each group. But I wasn’t sure that everyone would recognize the digits. So I drew an exaggerated decimal point between the 3 and 1, and I stated, “If you don’t know why this is relevant with Pi Day just around the corner, you’ve really missed the point.”


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