Memorizing the Digits of Pi

Photo: iStockphoto

What’s the best way to memorize the digits of pi? Calvin Trillin explores the options, including using music, a form of poetry known as piems, and clustering the numbers. “Lu Chao, the official world-record holder, used a method he based in part on the Chinese language—one that enabled him to recite sixty-seven thousand eight hundred and ninety digits,” writes Trillin.  Even high-schoolers are tackling the challenge, particularly high-schoolers at New York City’s Facing History School, which awards the student with the best pi memory an iPod Touch during Pi Week.  This year’s winner: a sophomore named Jason Gil, who recited 162 digits.

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.



View All Comments »
  1. Ellie says:

    Don’t bother. Learn Tau instead.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  2. nat says:

    The question is why?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  3. Gregory Bell says:

    Everyone should stop using Pi and start using Tau, it makes way more sense. And it would give people who are bad at memorizing things a chance to hold the world record (at least for a day or two).

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  4. Nosybear says:

    Memorizing the digits of pi, like the number itself, is irrational.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  5. Psychohistorian says:

    It’s sad that a school is rewarding such useless efforts. Memorize useful theorems or formulae, or memorize random phone numbers from the phone book; any of those would be more useful than memorizing the digits of pi. You’re not going to beat your calculator.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  6. Onlooker says:

    Interesting, and I’m sure there are some positive consequences of going through the exercise to some extent, but surely the extreme exercise is a whopping waste of time and effort. It’s just a form of trivia.

    But I could be persuaded otherwise, I suppose. Convince me.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. Nosybear says:

    Furthering the discussion of memorizing the digits of pi: Pi is irrational, an infinite string of numbers so any finite string of numbers you can recite, read or just make up will be, somewhere, digits of pi.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0