π is an irrational number, which means that its value cannot be expressed exactly as a fraction m/n, where m and n are integers. Consequently, its decimal representation never ends or repeats. It is also a transcendental number, which implies, among other things, that no finite sequence of algebraic operations on integers (powers, roots, sums, etc.) can be equal to its value; proving this was a late achievement in mathematical history and a significant result of 19th century German mathematics. Throughout the history of mathematics, there has been much effort to determine π more accurately and to understand its nature; fascination with the number has even carried over into non-mathematical culture.
Probably because of the simplicity of its definition, the concept of π has become entrenched in popular culture to a degree far greater than almost any other mathematical construct. It is, perhaps, the most common ground between mathematicians and non-mathematicians. Reports on the latest, most-precise calculation of π are common news items. The current record for the decimal expansion of π, if verified, stands at 5 trillion digits.
The Greek letter π, often spelled out pi in text, was first adopted for the number as an abbreviation of the Greek word for perimeter "περίμετρος" (or as an abbreviation for "perimeter/diameter") by William Jones in 1706. The constant is also known as Archimedes' Constant, after Archimedes of Syracuse who provided an approximation of the number, although this name for the constant is uncommon in modern English-speaking contexts.