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In "The Life of Pi," what is the significance of Pi's unusual name?

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cptnplnt | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 13, 2008 at 6:20 AM via web

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In "The Life of Pi," what is the significance of Pi's unusual name?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 13, 2008 at 12:04 PM (Answer #1)

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Pi's full name is Piscine Molitor Patel. He was named after a family friend, who loved to swim and whose favorite swimming pool was the Piscine Molitor in Paris. Instead of giving their son their friend's name, Pi's parents named him after the pool! Because he is constantly teased about his name ("Pissing Patel"), he decides to shorten it simply to Pi.

I'm not great at math, but I do know that pi is a mathematical figure that represents the number 3.14. According to Math Forum (linked below), it is an irrational number because it cannot be expressed as a fraction. It is also a constant: "Pi is always the same number, no matter which circle you use to compute it." It is also an ancient number, known to the Egyptians and the Babylonians.

In changing his name, Pi goes from being a joke to being a significant "number"--maybe a little irrational, but constant as well. 

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zytec | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted March 17, 2008 at 7:00 AM (Answer #2)

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Pi can be expressed as a fraction 22/7

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angus-trout | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 22, 2008 at 1:13 PM (Answer #3)

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Pi or π is one of the most important mathematical constants, approximately equal to 3.14159. It represents the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter in Euclidean geometry, which is the same as the ratio of a circle's area to the square of its radius. Many formulas from mathematics, science, and engineering involve π.

AND IT CANNOT BE REPRESENTED AS A FRACTION

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nnylyak | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 17, 2009 at 9:33 AM (Answer #5)

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22/7 is an approximation of Pi. Which goes on and on and on forever, meaning it is an irrational number. Come on! Think about it. If you have a number that goes on and on forever there is no way to get an exact fraction for it.

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mfborn1 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 4, 2012 at 11:31 PM (Answer #6)

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Pi "likes ending things", the number pi being a constant number is an allusion to a lack of a farewell/conclusion with Richard Parker. 

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dandelionmontez | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 25, 2012 at 5:10 PM (Answer #8)

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Pi's full name is Piscine Molitor Patel. He was named after a family friend, who loved to swim and whose favorite swimming pool was the Piscine Molitor in Paris. Instead of giving their son their friend's name, Pi's parents named him after the pool! Because he is constantly teased about his name ("Pissing Patel"), he decides to shorten it simply to Pi.

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Ada Sison | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted July 1, 2014 at 4:03 AM (Answer #9)

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Piscine Molitor Patel or Pi certainly has an unusual name. 

Piscine Molitor is significant because it shows the boy's correlation to water. The Piscine Molitor was a grand pool in Paris, beloved by Mr. Adirubasamy a family friend. 

Pi is significant because this is the name the boy makes for himself. Pi, an irrational number used in math to find the circumference of a circle.

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