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Irrational numbers are numbers that are neither **whole numbers** (like 2, 0, or -3) nor **ratios** of whole numbers. Irrational numbers are **real numbers** in the sense that they appear in measurements of geometric objects--for example, the number **pi** (), which is the ratio of the **circumference** of a **circle** to the length of its **diameter**, is an irrational number. However, irrational numbers cannot be represented as decimals, unlike **rational numbers**, which can be expressed either as finite decimals or as infinite decimals that eventually follow a repeating pattern. For instance, the decimal 6.412121212... is equal to 6348/990. By contrast, irrational numbers have infinitely long decimal expansions that never form a repeating pattern. Thus, the number pi can never be written down exactly in decimal form, it can only be approximated, by decimals such as 3.14159.

Irrational numbers were discovered in the school of **Pythagoras**, a great Greek mathematician who founded a...

This section contains 975 words(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page) |