# Archive for June 20th, 2008

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:

- Split the knowledge into smallest possible items.
- With all items associate an E-Factor equal to 2.5.
- Repeat items using the following intervals:

**I(1):=1**where:

I(2):=6

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. - 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. - After each repetition modify the E-Factor of the recently repeated item according to the formula:

**EF’:=EF+(0.1-(5-q)*(0.08+(5-q)*0.02))**where:

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. - 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).
- 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.