(the quantity which, when the diameter is multiplied by it, yields the circumference).
It is widely believed that the great Swiss-born mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-83) introduced the symbol π into common use.
On Oughtred's death in 1660 some books and papers from his fine mathematical library were acquired by the mathematician John Collins (1625-83), from whom they would eventually pass to Jones.
The irrationality of π was not proved until 1761 by Johann Lambert (1728-77), then in 1882 Ferdinand Lindemann (1852-1939) proved that π was a non-algebraic irrational number, a transcendental number (one which is not a solution of an algebraic equation, of any degree, with rational coefficients).
On his return to London he had earned his living as a teacher and an accountant.
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He held several increasingly lucrative posts and was adept at disentangling intricate accounts.Collins's modest ambition had been to open a bookshop, but he was unable to accumulate enough capital.In 1667, however, he was elected to the Royal Society of which he became an indispensable member, assisting the official secretary Henry Oldenburg on mathematical subjects.The discovery that there are two types of irrational numbers, however, does not detract from Jones's achievement in recognising that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter could not be expressed as a rational number.Beyond his first use of the symbol π Jones is of interest because of his connection to a number of key mathematical, scientific and political characters of the 18th century.It was probably around 1706 that Jones first came to Isaac Newton's attention when he published Synopsis, in which he explained Newton's methods for calculus as well as other mathematical innovations.In 1708 Jones was able to acquire Collins's extensive library and archive, which contained several of Newton's letters and papers written in the 1670s.These would prove of great interest to Jones and useful to his reputation.Born half a century apart, Collins and Jones never met, yet history will forever link them because of the library and mathematical archive that Collins started and Jones continued, arising from their shared passion for collecting books.The son of an impoverished minister, Collins was apprenticed to a bookseller.Essentially self-taught like Jones, he had also gone to sea and learned navigation.