How I learned 100 decimals from PI, and what this teaches us ?

Few months ago I was thinking about how many things we keep in our minds, all the passwords, usernames, strange words, song lyrics, poems, quotes, and as I always was fascinated in the cognitive science, I thought I would do a little experiment on me, so I picked a symbolic number PI (kind of helps for my faith in learning, instead of a random keyboard hazard typed number, and also it’s universally available, no matter where you are you can tell somebody that you know the first 100 digits from PI and they can test you finding it on the internet).

So this is PI:

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679

(yeah I just typed it, I didn’t copy-pasted it from the Wikipedia :P)

as I learned PI I also found that the world record is 67,890 digits, recited in China by Lu Chao in 24 hours and 4 minutes on 20 November 2005, and also about the history of PI, how digits were calculated and the fact that computers increased the calculated number of digits exponentially.

“Many persons have memorized large numbers of digits of π, a practice called piphilology. One common technique is to memorize a story or poem”, Wikipedia : but I find that stupid, and because I’m good with numbers, as I’m a programmer, I’m writing down my strategy of memorizing it. I must say that I learned PI few months ago, and I didn’t repeated it since then, and today I didn’t remembered much of it, but in one hour of retaking the ‘algorithm’ I started to have dejavus and in the end remembered it, so once you learn it you won’t forget it (like riding a bicycle, yet after a big pause you have some difficulties riding that bike, but after few moments you’re ready to go)

 

3. 14 15 92 65 389 79 | 32 38 46 26 43 38 327528| 84 1971 69 | 39 93 | 75 152097 444 59 | 2307 | 81 64 | 0628 6208| 99 | 86 28 03 48 | 2534 | 2117 06 79

 

Explanation:

– I made big groups of ~4 smaller groups of 2 digits, as I find that groups of two digits are easier to learn

– I colored similar digits and symmetric groups, as they are easier to learn

– also what seemed like a year I grouped it alone, perfect squares also are easy to learn

– two interesting groups were: 795028 with 75105820, where I made a correlation on them

– also the last 03, 06: because this groups started with 0 I knew that the first was with 3 and the last with 6

 

It did helped me to type them on the number pad, and also to speak them loud, in Romanian, then in English, I also tried to tell it in reverse, but it was harder and I found that I took individual big groups from the end and transformed the big group as I knew it in reverse order and then the next group and so on.

I learned in a progression: the first x digits, and I always added new big groups, which I repeated separately, and then added to the main group and repeated it all. The groups were easy to remember, it’s like knowing some telephone numbers, which is fairly easy, the challenge was to know which group came after which group.

The grouping it’s plain arbitrary and I could have chosen any type of grouping, but this is how they seemed natural to my brain, and I begun to think that there was some kind of coincidence in the fact that all small groups of 8 digits have some digits in common, or that some big groups are similar to some other big groups, but I think this is just because there are only 10 digits and the probability of groups to look similar is big enough.

I think(hope?) that anybody can do this, in their own unique way, and maybe there are some correlations made by people that intersect, which could mean something about how our brain works on numbers.

Why on earth would you spend time doing this ? Well because why on earth you spend a lot of time doing nothing interesting, watching TV, smoking, or who knows what. It’s not like you’re really busy, and it’s also a ‘game’ for your brain, it’s not like you’re wearing out your brain, it’s kind of the opposite. You can do it anywhere, in a Bus, at home, but preferably in a hammock. It’s nice to get out of the routine and do crazy things, all sort of things. Start small and then expand and share, you will find more and more.

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