Mathematics Throughout History

The Creation of Zero and Pi

Who first suggested the symbol for pi?

There are many claims for the first use of the symbol for pi (π). English mathematician William Oughtred (1575–1660) in 1647, wrote it “p.d.” But the symbol also meant a number of other things in other texts, including a point, a positive number, and sundry other representations. The modern use of π didn’t occur until 1706, when Welsh mathematician William Jones (1675–1749) described it as, “3.12159 and c. = π” [sic]. Even then, not everyone used it as a standard symbol for pi. By 1737, Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707–1783), one of the most prolific mathematicians who ever lived, adopted the symbol in his work, making π a standard notation since that time.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Math Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App