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In nod to Pi Day, MIT releasing admissions decisions Wednesday evening

Posted by Roy Greene  March 14, 2012 05:53 PM

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Getting into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may be difficult. But for applicants, learning whether they've been accepted to the elite school this evening is as easy as pi.

As a nod to the mathematical constant pi, MIT releases its admission decisions each year on March 14, or rather 3.14 -- which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

“We have released our decisions in mid-March for some years now, so it’s around the time we’ve done it,” MIT Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill said. “One year, it happened to fall on March 14, which we knew to be Pi Day and it seemed like an interesting and fun coincidence.”

This year, the school decided to recognize another mathematical figure: tau, which is the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its radius, or essentially two times pi. To pay homage to tau, which can be represented numerically as 6.28, admissions decisions will be relased at 6:28 p.m., or “tau o’clock,” this evening.

Applicants can learn whether they've been accepted by logging onto the school's admission website.

Some mathematicians argue that the circle constant should be tau, rather than pi.

“Over past year or so, there has been a bit of debate in the math universe over which is a better number to use, whether it is Pi or Tau,” Schmill said.

MIT is marking Pi Day in other ways.

On campus Wednesday, the dining halls served a variety of pies Wednesday evening, MIT’s Graduate Student Council will host the fifth annual Pi recitation contest, complete with prizes for the three students who can recite the most decimal places of Pi.

Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com

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