The number pi is unusual in the mathematical world. As far as the experts know, it never repeats, creates any kind of pattern or ends.
But that didn’t stop Harbor Day School eighth-grade student Benjamin Most from memorizing 4,030 digits of the famous number.
“Last year I did 3,031,” the 14-year-old said. “I wanted to top 4,000. It sounded like a milestone.”
FOR THE RECORD:
The headline on an earlier version incorrectly said Benjamin Most was a two-time champion. He’s actually won three times.
Benjamin, who is ranked 34th internationally in reciting the digits of pi, recaptured his title of Pi King on Thursday at Harbor Day School’s annual Pi Day celebration.
Pi, is approximately 3.14, is the ratio circumference of any diameter for any circle.
The private Corona del Mar K-8 school has been celebrating Pi Day — March 14, or 3/14 — since 2000. By 2002 it began the recitation contest to include pie and memorization of pi’s digits. The celebration started by math teacher Meggen Stockstill celebrates the mathematical anomaly.
“It is extremely difficult to memorize the digits because they are random and have no pattern,” she said. “Mathematicians worldwide try to memorize the digits, and so I thought it would be fun to introduce the contest at our school. The first Pi King recited 90 digits, and as the years have gone on, more and more students are challenging their memories to recite as many digits as possible.”
Benjamin started memorizing in fall 10 digits as a time, adding on to what he has memorized since fifth grade.
“It seems like a great challenge,” he said. “Every year I want to top my record.”
Benjamin is a gifted math student, but it isn’t just about good grades with him — he’s a dreamer, Stockstill said. He is always the last to turn in his assignments because he is looking for patterns, she said.
“I like finding creative solutions to problems,” Benjamin said.
The Pi Day festivities have excited not just math whizzes, but the entire school, Stockstill said.
“To me, it’s just amazing that you can get so many kids to do something that might seem silly to other people ... and they enjoy doing it,” she said. “To get kids that excited about math is wonderful.”
With Benjamin’s last Pi Day now behind him, he isn’t sure if he will keep up the memorization, but he doesn’t want to forget it all. He is playing with the idea of starting his own Pi Day once he gets into high school at Harvard Westlake Preparatory next school year.
An exceptional math student, Benjamin said he is open to majoring in math, or going into a career in that field, but that isn’t his only interest — or only thing he excels at.
He won a Silver Key Award from the Scholastic Arts and Writing Contest for his short story about a boy dealing with the loss of a his best friend who died in a car crash.
Benjamin said he enjoys writing. Stockstill said he is exceptional at it, too.
“I want to be an author someday,” he said.