File Exchange Pick of the Week

Archimedes’s Computation of Pi

Posted by Brett Shoelson,

Brett's Pick this week is The Computation of Pi by Archimedes, by Bill McKeeman.

In the comments to Bill's post, long-time File Exchange champion John D'Errico wrote: "There are two uses for the File Exchange that I love. One is to provide high quality code. The second is to teach others about some interesting part of mathematics and hopefully, write it using well written MATLAB code. This submission eminently qualifies. You can read it and learn something from what Bill has done."

I wholeheartedly agree with John about the value of Bill's post. In this submission, retired MathWorks Fellow (and current (?) Dartmouth adjunct faculty member) Bill provides a beautifully presented explanation of Archimedes's attempt to measure pi by calculating the circumferences of regularly polygons bounding the inside and outside of a circle:

Then, by successively increasing the number of sides of those polygons, Archimedes iterated to a more accurate value of pi than had been obtained to date.

Besides making a fascinating read, Bill's presentation of this material provides a really nice demonstration of using HTML to show mathematics-intensive text. Once rendered using MATLAB's built-in publishing capabilities, you end up with a beautifully formatted report.

As always, comments to this blog post are welcome. Or leave a comment for Bill here.


Get the MATLAB code

Published with MATLAB® 7.14

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These postings are the author's and don't necessarily represent the opinions of MathWorks.