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Why the Dimensionless Mathematical Ratio pi Occurs in the Gauss Distribution Law

Authors: Nigel B. Cook

The occurrence of pi in formulae apparently unrelated to geometry was used by Eugene Wigner in his 1960 paper The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences. Wigner's example is the Gaussian/normal distribution law, which is an example of obfuscation. Laplace (1782), Gauss (1809), Maxwell (1860) and Fisher (1915) wrote the normal exponential distribution with the square root of pi in the normalization outside the integral. But Stigler in 1982 rewrote the equation with pi in the exponent, making the formula look less mysterious because the exponent is then the area of a circle (in other words, Poisson's exponential distribution, adapted to circular areas, with areas expressed in dimensionless form); if you think of the use of the normal distribution to model CEP error probabilities for missiles landing around a target point. (Please see paper for equations.)

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[v1] 2014-03-27 12:42:36

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