Anyone Up For Some After-Thanksgiving Pi?

by ToriDeaux on December 1, 2008

When Erin Matlock of BrainTraining101 offered me a guest post, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  What did she bring me? Pi!  Quite yummy Pi, too…   So without further ado (and only a few interjections from me) Heeeeeeeeeeeere’s Erin!  – Tori



Sadly, This beautiful mathematical constant (that serves not only  as humor t-shirt fare but a kind of religion for number junkies)  is often drilled down to a measly 3.14, all because people have trouble remembering longer versions of Pi.

Tori: Oh, Erin, if I could only remember more decimals of Pi!

One way to remember longer versions of Pi is with piems – poems written where the number of letters making up each word stands for a digit in Pi.   There are quite a few circling the internet which can help you in recalling Pi up to the 20th decimal place and beyond.  Here is one of the most popular:

How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!

Counting the letters in each word gives us

How (3) I (1) want (4) a (1) drink (5), alcoholic (9) of (2) course (6), after (5) the (3) heavy (5) lectures (8) involving (9) quantum (7) mechanics (9)!



Tori:   It’d be fun to write a piem.  Especially one with whipped cream. I’m not sure I’d remember its meaning, though.

I don’t trust myself enough to remember the piem, either, so I use a story mnemonic instead. This method can be used for as many decimal places as you’d like, but for today I’m going to stop at ten.

This is a two step process, but it’s not difficult – and it’s good exercise for the brain to boot.

I’ll start with the Number Rhyme System.  If you’re not familiar, this is a classic memory system that can be learned on the fly and is extremely adaptable.

The first step is to  set up rhymes for the numbers zero through ten. Each number will be paired with a rhyming word which will serve as the number’s reminder image.

Zero – Hero
One – Gun
Two – Shoe
Three – Tree
Four – Door
Five – Hive
Six – Sticks
Seven – Heaven
Eight – Skate
Nine – Wine
Ten – Hen

The rhymes above are a general guide. Take a minute to switch out any you don’t like and replace them with rhymes that may work better for you. The only rule is that the rhyme has to be automatic and should easily pop into your mind as soon as you say each number.

Once you have your rhymes set, take a few minutes to run through the list and make sure you have it committed to memory. Got it? image

OK. Next Step.

Here is Pi to the 10th decimal point. (For the purpose of this post, I did not round up on the last digit.)


We’re going to use the reminder images for each number and create a visual story. For this to work, you really need to see the story unfold in your mind. I am going to give you an example, but you’re welcome to create your own.

Here we go.

See yourself jumping down from atop a huge oak tree (3). You pull your water gun (1) out of its holster and kick down the door (4) that stands in front of you. You start squirting your water gun (1) at the giant bee hive (5) up ahead. As you get closer, you notice that instead of honey, it’s filled with wine (9) which is gushing out and drenching your shoe (2). You bend down and grab one of the sticks (6) you’re standing on and reach up to poke at the hive (5). You step back and suddenly notice that this tree (3) is actually full of these oddly behaving hives (5).

Now, read through the story a few times and visualize yourself moving through it. Your mind will begin to link the numbers faster than you can recite the story, and then you’ll be able to quickly go through it like this:

tree, gun, door, gun, hive, wine, shoe, sticks, hive, tree, hive which converts to –

3,1,4,1,5,9,2,6,5,3,5 which brings you to 3.1415926535.

Take a few minutes to review your story over the next week and then think through it every once in a while and you should have it solidly committed to memory.

You can extend the story to take Pi to any number of decimal places, however I would switch to an advanced memory technique such as a peg system or one in which the numbers are converted to letters for that.

Please leave a comment and let me know how this works for you or if you have any questions. Also if you’ve chosen to create your own story, think about sharing it!

Tori: I’ll do that, Erin, thanks! Got any whipped cream?

Afterthoughts: Luciano of Litemind didn’t have any whipped cream, but he did contribute this loverly slice of Pi: and be sure and check out Erin’s site, BrainTraining101 for more mind and memory nudges.  – Tori

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 A Little Mind Tweak For You | 12.01.08 at 4:51 pm

[...] A how-to for memorizing the elusive constant, Pi, to the tenth decimal place. It’s titled “Anyone Up For Some After-Thanksgiving Pi?” If you have a minute head on over to Tori’s brain blog and check it [...]

2 Erin Matlock 12.01.08 at 6:20 pm

Thank you so much, Tori, for allowing me the opportunity to guest post. Your email was a pleasant surprise this morning after stumbling out of my turkey and cookies haze.

3 Tori Deaux 12.02.08 at 5:40 pm

You’re very welcome, Erin… and thank you for both offering and following through. It was all easy as.. well.. Pi.

(Bad Deaux. Thou shalt not pun at thy guest bloggers!)