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Transcendental Nature of Pi

March 22, 1987

Your editorial on pi is a pixyish delight.

However, one correction is necessary--and does exist, whether or not a final digit of pi is found.

It was not the Greeks who first "calculated" pi, but the Chinese several leaps more--Liu Hui took it to 3.14159 (Archimedes only "between 3.142 and 3.140") in the 3rd Century, and in the 5th Century Isu Chung Chih and his son, Tsu Keno-Chi, took it to 3.145929203.

It wasn't until the 1600s in Europe that Adriaen Anthoniszoon and his son calculated pi to seven places--3 fewer than that of the Tsu family.

It also might be added that the story that the 0 was invented in India in the 9th Century AD is equally incorrect. The Chinese were leaving a space in their computations as far back as the 4th Century BC--only later did they draw a "frame" around the space.

Please let us not be so tied up in our Western European traditional stories--give credit where credit is indeed due.

BEMI DeBUS

Santa Monica

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