How to Memorize Pi By Grouping Digits
There are five or six methods for memorizing pi, that most well-know of irrational numbers. Which method works best depends on the way an individual’s brain is wired. Some people prefer sounds, others visualize digits and others use a range of memory techniques. The method described here uses the technique of grouping digits to memorize pi.
First, you need to find a calculation of pi so that you have access to the list of digits – how many are you aiming for? For a modest target (say up to 50 digits) the simple method is fine.
- 1. Split pi into small groups of digits (e.g. 4, 5, or 6 digits). Work with a group size that suits you (many people easily remember telephone numbers in groups of four). Once you have settled on a group size then print out the list of digits in a format that suits you. Use pencil to mark the groups. For example:
(3.14159) (2653) (5897) (9323) (8462) (6433)
- 2. Focus on memorizing the ﬁrst small group of say 6 digits (this starting block is easy).
- 3. When you have rehearsed the ﬁrst group, move to the next and practice for a few minutes.
A disadvantage of the simple coordinate method is that if you misremember then you have to start over. If your ambitions are greater, then the advanced method can help you extend the number of digits progressively and also enable you to pick up in the middle of a list.
There are several flavors to this method for memorizing pi, but they generally involve a range of grouping techniques, for example:
- A. One group of 1 (3), 2 groups of 2, 3 groups of 3, 4 groups of 4, 5 groups of 5 and so on, up to 10 groups of 10 (and beyond if your brain is up to it). You can see that this is a series – did you work out how many digits this would enable you to remember? You might prefer just to use this as an extension to the simple method above.
- B. Organize the numbers in the format of telephone numbers (whichever country suits you best). For example – the US (314)159-2653, (589)793-2384, (626)433-8327 and so on.
- C. Building on the previous flavor you can even put names to them so that they read like a telephone directory. Alan (314)159-2653), Bob (589)793-2384, Chas (626)433-8327(that’s 260 digits.
Directories and Music
Going further, you can have one directory for friends, one for famous bands or musicians, and so on! Even with Z you can have Zach and ZZTop!
Some people find that singing helps them to remember – if you have a favorite tune that can help. Pop music is usually in 4/4 time which provides a good rhythm although you may want to shift time signatures as you work with larger groups of digits. That’s expert level!
Finally – Be Practical when Memorizing Pi
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, that is the key and it helps to have the digits grouped on cards to make that easy even when you are in the coffee shop, although you may get some strange looks! And if you want to go further, there are even more refinements to take you from expert to master level in memorizing pi.