Saturday, March 14, 2015

Memorizing Pi 

π is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter

How many digits of π can you recite?

I recited 200 digits of π on my first day of trying. 
But if you asked me to remember π, off the top of my head, I could only get to 3.141592. That’s only 7 digits! How did I recite 200 digits? I created a system and story to recite π, and it has nothing to do with memorizing the digits .

Memorizing Pi  
( First 100 digits of  π)

Emir, if Nut-guf Efans net EarGut.
Greek abets Nufo Tamarin Sid.
Dug Nennes fio fatons Runur Rux
X-fun Teo saig, "RogTag" to An.
Nagta Opera Tuferti is ogsu.

Memorizing Pi is a story I wrote to recite the first 1,000 digits of πI created a mnemonic system to translate the letters in the words to numbers. My system is easy to learn because it's easy to translate!

Try memorizing:                6433832795028841971

Now try memorizing:       Greek abets Nufo Tamarin Sid.

Memorizing words is easier than memorizing a string of numbers. Even if the words sound like gibberish. Memorizing five words for nineteen numbers is much easier than memorizing the numbers themselves. If you can memorize Greek abets Nufo Tamarin Sid, then you’re halfway there to reciting digits 23 through 41 of π. You just need to know how to translate the letters into numbers and that’s the easy part.

My Mnemonic System for Memorizing Numbers
O-0     I-I     T-2     E-3     R-4     F-5     G-6     S-7     A-8     N-9

The letter O is the number 0
0 looks like an O
The letter I  is the number 1
1 looks like an I
The letter T is the number 2
2 starts with a T
The letter E is the number 3
3 is the mirror image of E, and 3 ends with the E sound
The letter R is the number 4
4 ends with the R sound
The letter F is the number 5
5 starts with an F
The letter G is the number 6
6 looks like a G
The letter S is the number 7
7 starts with an S
The letter A is the number 8
8 starts with the A sound
The letter N is the number 9
9 starts with an N
B, C, D, H, J, K, L, M, P, Q, U, V, W, X, Y, Z
Filler Letters are ignored when translating

The rest of the letters: vowel U, and consonants B, C, D, H, J, K, L, M, P, Q, V, W, X, Y, Z are filler letters. They don’t correspond to any numbers. A filler letter is ignored when translating. They are used to make a string of letters such as all vowels or consonants more readable. For example a string of vowels AOAAAEA could be written as ALOHA AZALEA. The vowel U is used to break up a string of consonants. For example TGSRGS could be written as TUGS RUGS. Learning to translate isn’t hard because there are only ten letters to know and two of them, O and I, are easy to recognize.

Let’s practice some translating.


With filler letters included.

090 8811
82 1793 04
2489907847 43
789 5489170 81504918
3072093 9821098 84
38482109 05 19339393

The biggest difference between my system and other mnemonic systems is that the other systems use real words. My system uses real words occasionally, but it has the benefit of using fewer words and characters and is easy to learn. Even though my mnemonic system uses strange names, places, and made-up words, they’re not hard to read or memorize.

Let’s start with the first line of Memorizing Pi.
Emir if Nut-guf Efans net EarGut.

Emir : E is 3. M is a filler letter, ignore the M. I is 1. R is 4.
                 We have 314 or for π it’s 3.14
if : I is 1. F is 5.
                 We have 3.1415
Nut-guf : N is 9. U is a filler letter. T is 2. G is 6. U is a filler letter. F is 5.
                 We have 3.14159265
Efans : E is 3. F is 5. A is 8. N is 9. S is 7.
                 We have 3.1415926535897
net : N is 9. E is 3. T is 2.
                 We have 3.1415926535897932
EarGut : E is 3. A is 8, R is 4, G is 6, U is a filler letter. T is 2.
                 We have 3.141592653589793238462

We just learned and translated the first 22 digits of π!

Do you remember : Greek abets Nufo Tamarin Sid ?
This is the second line of the story.
If you memorized the first two lines of the story.

Emir if Nut-guf Efans net EarGut.
Greek abets Nufo Tamarin Sid.

Then you can already recite the first 41 digits of π!

Now you're ready to memorize the first 100 digits of π.

Memorizing Pi

Emir if Nut-guf Efans net EarGut.
Greek abets Nufo Tamarin Sid.
Dug Nennes fio fatons Runur Rux.
X-fun Teo saig, "RogTag" to An.
Nagta Opera Tuferti is ogsu. 

Key for Memorizing Pi
Emir, if Nut-guf Efans net EarGut.
3.14 15 9265 35897 932 38462
Greek abets Nufo Tamarin Sid.
6433 8327 950 288419 71
Dug Nennes fio fatons Runur Rux.        
6 939937 510 582097 494 4
X-fun Teo saig, “RogTag” to An.               
59 230 7816 406286 20 89
Nagta Opera Tuferti is ogsu.                    
98628 0348 253421 17 067

I finished writing and memorizing the story to recite the first 1,000 digits of π. After memorizing the first 200 digits of π, the only problem I had was remembering the next line of the story. I needed a prompt for the next line. I had to rewrite the story!

Emir if Nut-guf Efans net EarGut.
Greek abets Nufo Tamarin Sid.
Dug Nennes fio fatons Runur Rux.
X-fun Teo saig, "RogTag" to An.
Nagta Opera Tuferti is ogsu.

The solution was to make the last letter of each line the same as the first letter in the next line. Sid leads to Dug, Rux leads to X-fun, An leads to Nagta. The only line that doesn't have the prompt is the first line.

To help memorize, I turned most of the words into characters. Nut-guf Efans, Nufo Tamarin Sid, Dug Nennes, and Runur Rux are some of the many characters in the story. Names are easier to remember compared to numerous short three letter words. Another memorization technique is to turn the words into a story. Imagine trying to memorize these words.

emir if nut guf efans net ear gut
greek abets nufo tamarin sid
dug nennes fio fatons runur rux
xfun teo saig rog tag to an
nagta opera tuferti is ogsu

By turning many of the words into characters, places, and things a story can be written. Interpreting the story depends on your imagination. This is how I interpret the story to make it easier to remember.

The Prince (Emir) is being told that Nut-guf Efans might catch a fish (EarGut).
The Greek abet Sid, the leader (Nufo) of the tamarin monkeys.
Dug Nennes fires (fio) his bullets (fatons) at Runur Rux.
X-Fun Teo said (saig) “RogTag” to An.
The opera in Nagta, Opera Tuferti is opening soon (ogsu).

There are many websites to test your π skills. I use Cow-Pi because there is a leaderboard and a practice section that allows you to jump to a different section of digits.

Screenshot from

After realizing how easy it was to memorize numerous digits with my mnemonic system, I set a goal of 1,000 digits of π. I reached 200 digits on my first day, and over 500 after one week. I reached my goal of 1,000 digits in 11 days after I started memorizing π. Maybe I'll continue writing the Memorizing Pi story to 10,689 digits ending at 2339 - THE END.

If you memorized 100 digits of π. Congratulations!


Posted on 3/14/15 at 9:26 a.m. Pi Day 3.1415926!