Question:  What do you get if you cross:

          Answer:    The Pi-Cubed Programming Challenge!

Below I explain a little more about the Challenge: what it is, who it is for, how to get started, how to get ideas, and how to enter.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is it?

We challenge you to write a computer program to explore any idea in mathematics. Your program should be written in Python, so that it will run on the tiny Raspberry Pi computer.

  • Who is it for?

All talented young people in the UK who want to develop their maths & computing skills, and to show them off to the world! To enter, you must be attending a school or sixth-form college (or receiving home education) in the UK. You can enter on your own, or in a small team of five or fewer.

  • What can I win?

All entrants will get a certificate of participation from the University of Sheffield. The best entries will be shared on this website, so that people can recognise your achievements. We will invite the best entrants to an event at the University in July, where prizes will be awarded (see below)...

  • But I've never written a program before! Is that OK?

That's not a problem: I'll post weekly tutorials here to get you started. There are also many excellent guides to Python on the web. Once you're up and running, you may be surprised at what you can do!

  • But I don't have a Raspberry Pi! Is that OK?

Don't worry, you can still write a program on your PC or Mac. The only requirement is that you use the Python programming language. I will show you how to get started.

  • But I don't have any inspiration for my program ... what should I do?

That's OK! Week by week, I will be giving examples of interesting topics in maths that can be explored with computer codes. I will post my Python programs here. You are free to edit, modify, borrow, adapt and improve, as you wish.

  • How can I start?

You can start by signing up to our weekly email, following @pi3challenge on Twitter, checking out the tutorials posted so far, or trying one of the mini-challenges.

  • Can I enter now?

Entries have closed for this year's competition.  You can see the winners here


  • All entrants will receive a Certificate of Participation
  • The top three entries (in the highly subjective opinion of the judges) will receive gift vouchers (Amazon, electronics or book vouchers, at winners' discretion):
    • £100 for first place
    • £60 for second place
    • £40 for third place
  • Highly Commended entries may be awarded additional minor spot prizes.

Entry Requirements

  • To enter, you must be under 19 years old and either (i) currently attending a secondary school or sixth-form college in the UK; or (ii) currently being educated at home in the UK.
  • Entries will be accepted from individuals and small teams of five students or fewer.
  • A successful entry should include:
    1. The program you have written in Python, which we will test on the Raspberry Pi.
    2. A short report on the mathematical problem you explored, and why you find it interesting.
    3. Some details about your school/teacher, your inspiration, and what you plan to do next.
  • Entries are made by filling in this form, and sending your program and report to
  • Multiple entries will be accepted, at our discretion, but prizes are limited to one per student.
  • The deadline for entries is 19th July 2013.

Key Dates

The Challenge will be launched on Monday 18th March 2013 at Discovery Night, as part of Science and Engineering Week at the University of Sheffield. The opening date for entries is 29th April. The closing date for entries is 19th July. The winners will be announced in August, with a prize giving event hosted at the University of Sheffield on 14th September. (NB. All dates are for indication only and subject to revision).

The Challenge: Key Dates


Over the course of the Challenge, I will post 12 tutorials. I intend to explore many interesting topics in mathematics in tutorials, including:

  1. How to get started
  2. Writing your first programs
  3. The Fibonacci sequence and Pascal's triangle
  4. Simple problems in number theory
  5. Shapes and graphics with the pygame module
  6. Prime numbers
  7. Pi and its digits
  8. Pendulum motion
  9. Code breaking
  10. Fractals
  11. Probability
  12. Black holes and space invaders

Next Steps