Celebrating Pi Day: The Significance of Mathematics in Everyday Life

Tristan Delderfield explains how Pi day promotes the mathematics that we all need in our lives.

Illustration by Elham Ghaedi

The International Day of Mathematics is celebrated every year on March 14. March 14 can be written as 3/14 which is also the approximation of the mathematical constant Pi, which makes it a very appropriate day to celebrate mathematics! The day is intended to honour and raise awareness of the importance of mathematics in society, particularly the role it plays in the advancement of science and technology. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has stated that the festival will have a different topic each year to encourage innovation and highlight the connections between mathematics and everyday life. Mathematics is a crucial aspect of life and a necessity in our daily activities. You utilize math every day, even if you don’t realize it. From telling time to grocery shopping, your brain is continuously using mathematics. We can celebrate the big day in this wonderful field, just like we do in every other element of our lives that we value (RitiRiwaz, 2023). The theme for 2023 International Day of Mathematics is: Mathematics for Everyone. It often feels as though maths is reserved for nuclear physicists working at CERN, or for aerospace engineers working at SpaceX; this couldn’t be further from the truth! If you bake, go shopping, play an instrument or even just look at the time, maths is for you (Pi Day, 2021).

Analogue clocks are divided into twelve numbers, representing both the twelve-hour intervals we use to divide up our days, as well as the sixty minutes we use to divide up those hours. Without a basic understanding of fractions and counting, telling the time would be incredibly difficult. A recent study showed that 80% of children in Oklahoma City could not tell the time on an analogue clock (Pi Day, 2021). Besides analogue clocks, 24-hour clocks would be impossible to understand without basic addition and subtraction. Arithmetic can be useful for budgeting since it will help you learn how to make sure that your expenses are less than your income. For instance, balancing one’s bank account is a crucial life skill, and calculating interest or loan repayments can be vital when making financial decisions. In cooking and baking, a good foundation in fractions can be very handy, especially when adapting recipes for different amounts. For example, doubling a recipe that calls for a quarter cup of milk would now require a half cup. Maths is employed in countless professions. While math is often associated with scientific occupations, this is not always the case. Even operating a cash register requires that one understands basic arithmetic. People working in a factory must be able to do mental arithmetic to keep track of the parts on the assembly line and must, in some cases, manipulate fabrication software utilizing geometric properties (such as the dimensions of a part) to build their products.

Besides its practical use in everyday life, learning mathematics has some other benefits too. Research at Stanford University, led by Dr Tanya Evans, indicates that children proficient in math can access particular brain regions more reliably, and have higher grey matter volume in those regions, than those who perform more poorly in math.  High-achieving children’s brain regions were linked to a variety of cognitive activities involving visual attention and decision-making. This study suggests that the same brain regions that assist in math are used in decision-making and attentional activities. Arithmetic improves our ability to reason clearly and analytically. Critical thinking about our surroundings is referred to as analytical thinking. Our capacity for reasoning is what allows us to approach problems logically. Analytical and reasoning skills are essential because they help us solve problems and look for solutions. While it may seem far-fetched to believe that solving math problems can help you solve real world problems, the skills that you use in framing these problems, identifying the knowns and unknowns, and taking steps to solve these problems can be a very important strategy that is applicable to other problems in life (Pi Day, 2021).

In conclusion, the theme for this year’s International Day of Mathematics is important to show us that math is not just for scientists and mathematicians but is a crucial skill that everyone can use in their daily lives. Math is employed in countless professions – from budgeting your finances to working in a factory, to even simply telling the time, it is an essential tool for problem-solving and analytical thinking. Therefore, it is vital to promote the importance of mathematics and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to embrace the subject, as it truly is for everyone.

Was this a causal link or a correlation?

Tristan Delderfield

Student at Stellenbosch University


Pi Day, 2021. 10 Reasons Why Math is Important in Life. Available at: https://www.piday.org/10-reasons-why-math-is-important-in-life/

RitiRiwaz, 2023. International Day of Mathematics. Available at: https://www.ritiriwaz.com/international-day-of-mathematics/


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