Posts Tagged ‘memory algorithm’

20th June
written by simplelight

Wired has an excellent article on an optimal memorization algorithm developed by Piotr Wozniak. The technique has been embodied in a software program called SuperMemo and an open-source alternative called Mnemosyne

I’m somewhat skeptical that spending more time on memorizing facts is that useful but given that a few months ago I could barely remember the equation for the roots of a quadratic perhaps I should be more open-minded.

The algorithm is straightforward:

  1. Split the knowledge into smallest possible items.
  2. With all items associate an E-Factor equal to 2.5.
  3. Repeat items using the following intervals:
    for n>2: I(n):=I(n-1)*EF
    I(n) – inter-repetition interval after the n-th repetition (in days),
    EF – E-Factor of a given item
    If interval is a fraction, round it up to the nearest integer.
  4. After each repetition assess the quality of repetition response in 0-5 grade scale:
    5 – perfect response
    4 – correct response after a hesitation
    3 – correct response recalled with serious difficulty
    2 – incorrect response; where the correct one seemed easy to recall
    1 – incorrect response; the correct one remembered
    0 – complete blackout.
  5. After each repetition modify the E-Factor of the recently repeated item according to the formula:
    EF’ – new value of the E-Factor,
    EF – old value of the E-Factor,
    q – quality of the response in the 0-5 grade scale.
    If EF is less than 1.3 then let EF be 1.3.
  6. If the quality response was lower than 3 then start repetitions for the item from the beginning without changing the E-Factor (i.e. use intervals I(1), I(2) etc. as if the item was memorized anew).
  7. After each repetition session of a given day repeat again all items that scored below four in the quality assessment. Continue the repetitions until all of these items score at least four.

There is a website called Memverse which has implemented this algorithm for memorizing popular bible verses. I’ve been using the site for about 3 months now and it is very impressive how much you can retain using the algorithm.