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For this Jones recognised that only a pure platonic symbol would suffice.
The symbol π had been used in the previous century in a significantly different way by the rector and mathematician, William Oughtred (c.
Later he sailed to the West Indies and became interested in navigation; he then went on to be a mathematics master on a man-of-war.
He was present at the battle of Vigo in October 1702 when the English successfully intercepted the Spanish treasure fleet as it was returning to the port in north-west Spain under French escort.
Though he did not prove it, Jones believed that π was an irrational number: an infinite, non-repeating sequence of digits that could never totally be expressed in numerical form. the exact proportion between the diameter and the circumference can never be expressed in numbers...'.
Consequently, a symbol was required to represent an ideal that can be approached but never reached.
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).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.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.