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Notes on the Math Crisis


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To the editors:

An emendation to Dr. Neil Basescu's letter (May 18) commenting on Cecil Adams's column about the value of pi: Basescu refers to the accuracy of this value "to 35 digits to the left of the decimal (point)." He meant to write, 35 digits to the right of the point. The value of pi is approximately 3,14159.... Note the value is truncated on the right. "Thirty-five digits to the right" would agree with his value of 10(-35) for the uncertainty in the value of pi. Negative exponents indicate decimal places to the right of the point. My calculations verify Dr. Basescu's assumptions and his figure of 10(-31).

Confusion about right and left is not uncommon in mathematical copy.

Ellen Credille

Mathematics Editor

Tech Edit

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