If you search “Pi” in the Podcasts app on iTunes, you’re presented with a slew of options, but since there’s really no quality gatekeeper on iTunes, a lot of the podcasts aren’t worth your time. We’ve combed through a bunch to narrow it down to the top 3.14 podcasts you should sample for compelling math content.
1. What’s The Point
So FiveThirtyEight is one of my favorite sites right now. Nate Silver and a team of stats-genius math guys are analyzing everything under the sun, and scratching that itch Freakonomics used to satisfy. They have three podcasts under their banner right now, including Hot Takedown (sports) and Elections (election coverage). But for our purposes today, the main site is the biggest pull. What’s The Point is a show about our data age. Each week, Jody Avirgan brings you stories and interviews on how data is changing our lives — and it’s impossible to get into any big data stories without first cracking Pi. There’s only a limited run of recent episodes on iTunes, but the entire archive is online, so check it out there.
2. Math Ed
This is the big beautiful one. Math Ed has a ton of episodes and some of the greatest guests in the math world, including regular appearances from our next favorite podcast. Hosts interview academics about recent findings or changes in the math world, and has extremely regular releases along with a killer backlog. May I also recommend episode 1603: Allison Hintz & Kersti Tyson, who discuss an article about fun approaches to math for kids, because numbers are so complicated and boring.
3. Peter Rowlett / Samuel Hansen
This is the best solution for your Pi Day math needs, but unfortunately it isn’t a single podcast. Peter Rowlett and Samuel Hansen are math lunatics that have a host of different math podcasts, including a cross-over podcast. Unfortunately, most of them are on hiatus. Fortunately for you, there’s still a wealth of material. Travels In A Mathematical World has 64 episodes about the history of math and its effect on the modern world. Math / Maths, the co-hosted outing, features more interview-based material. This one is still in syndication, but it only releases sporadically. Now, Hansen also has Strongly Connected Components and Combinations And Permutations which is more of a comedy show, but also a dead show. He also headed a short-lived math show called Relatively Prime, which is currently kickstarting a new season, and a spin-off show called The Other Half, which aims to make math fun and features two female hosts. If you’re a fan of this gigantic media monolith, you’ll never run out of engaging material. If you’re not sure where to start, let me recommend Strongly Connected Components, especially the Matt Parker episode from last month.
While not technically podcasts, there are three of four highly rated apps for iOS devices that do nothing but calculate Pi as far as they can. It seems odd to dedicate a day to something like a big number without taking a few moments to actually poke around in that big number. The Learn Pi Free app actually helps you memorize the number, which seems like the kind of task I’d like to take on one day — to prove to all of my friends I’ve finally gone insane.