Jeopardy! features a category on pi

Jeopardy! is arguably the most popular North American trivia quiz show. Traditionally the show has shied away from mathematical topics, but, in the past year or two, it has featured some interesting and relatively sophisticated mathematical categories.

For example, on 9 May 2013, Jeopardy! featured an entire category on the Abel Prize of mathematics. A listing of the individual questions, together with some background on the Abel Prize, is available in a previous Math Drudge blog.

And, lest we forget, in February 2011 Jeopardy! featured a three-day competition between IBM’s “Watson” computer system and the two best human contestants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. IBM’s resounding victory in the match made international news. We described the final match here and discussed its meaning here.

Continuing this trend to more sophisticated treatment of mathematics and computing, on Tuesday 5 November 2013, Jeopardy! featured a full category on the mathematical constant pi. Here are the clues posed in the category:

  1. ($200) Pi is the ratio of this measurement of a circle to its diameter.
  2. ($400) Numerically, pi is considered this, like a type of “meditation”.
  3. ($600) For about $19,100 x pi, this “Black Swan” director made “Pi”, his 1998 debut film about a math whiz.
  4. ($800) In the 100s A.D. this Alexandrian astronomer calculated a more precise value of pi, the equivalent of 3.14166.
  5. ($1000) You can find the area of this oval geometric shape with pi x A x B, if A & B are half of its longest & shortest diameter.

The clues and the answers (all were answered correctly by various contestants) are given here in the Jeopardy! archive, an independent repository of Jeopardy! clues and answers maintained by Jeopardy! fans.

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