benefit and difference between peg system and major system

So I want to improve my memory. And researching I stumbled over the peg system, where apperently you learn pictures to every number from 1 to 1000 or more. And then there is the major system, which has pictures to it, too. But it is also related to letters.

Now my question is, I think over time I can memorize my pictures for the peg system and then I am good to go. Because every numer has a picture. And with the major system I have pictures, too. But then I change a word in number and from the number I get a picture.

I got the impression the peg system would be enough, but what is your opinion, can you tell me why the major system is better?

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How are you thinking of creating your peg list? A Major System can also be a peg list. The wiki has a page with some examples of various types of peg lists that are based on number systems and alphabets.

If you haven’t watched it yet, there is a video on how to memorize numbers that explains the difference between a few concepts:

Image Generation Systems

These systems turn numbers into pictures.

  • Major System
  • Dominic System
  • Ben System
  • there are also other variations like Erol’s Shaper System

Image Placement Systems

These combine numbers in various ways before the images are placed in locations or on pegs.

  • 1-, 2-, or 3- digit systems
  • person-action systems
  • person-action-object systems
  • there are also some other variations on these ideas

Ordering Systems

I don’t think this is mentioned in the video, but memory journeys could be compared to peg lists. They are both ways of keeping mnemonic images in order.

  • memory journey – this technique keeps images in order by placing them along a spatial journey
  • peg list – this technique keeps images in order by linking them to ordered “peg” images.

So a Major System can also be a peg list, because a Major System is a set of images that can be recalled in order. If you link the images to be memorized to your Major System, then you can mentally recall your Major System in order to recall the linked images.

Peg lists aren’t as popular here in the forum as memory journeys, but I really like them. :slight_smile:


I’m not sure “better” is the best way to think about different memory systems. I think it’s a question of finding the techniques that work best for you and the specific information you’re wanting to memorize. In some situations, you may prefer a Peg system. In others, Major may be more effective.

For me, the Major system is used for recalling numbers—but not numbers in order, which is how I think of a Peg system. Instead, I use Major for remembering dates, population figures, digits of pi, etc. When I need to remember things in a specific order, I don’t use number pegs for that; I use a memory palace or journey.

The downside of my current approach is that I can’t tell you what “number” something is in, say, a chronological list. But so far I haven’t really needed to know what the 32nd state in the US was or what was the 40th film to win a Best Picture Oscar. Still, I can see value in having that information as part of my images.

I guess I don’t actually use a Peg system, beyond coming up with simple images to remember my parking spot at the airport.



They are both very similar peg & journey IMO. The difference is that the journey is naturally sequential and easiest to access that way. Well suited to narratives, speeches, things that you would want to retrieve in order. The peg system is a “random” access method. It doesn’t need adjacent pegs for support of any kind. I usuallyh learn a peg system as a kind of journey or linked list and over time I can find them individually without needing context.

Rather advantages and disadvantages but off the top of my head:

  • The major system is good to go much more quickly than the peg list, you remember 10 digits and you can use it albeit not as well as with a little practice.

  • The major system can help you make a peg list.

  • If you do not use the major system to make a peg list you have a choice of having different images for the same number. This may be useful if you have to memorise much longer numbers well debatable.

The disadvantage to it unlike a standard peg list is that a peg list can contain the shape of the numbers rather than being random images, which the major system can not really.

I had always assumed that peg lists and major systems and other image systems were used inside of memory palaces by default.

I see these ideas as a toolkit and everyone uses his tools in different ways and combinations. We all come to the game with varying equipment. I’m a little wary about getting lost in word definitions because we aren’t all doing quite the same things. If you want definition fights, hang out with the biologists, and bring bandages.

As I mentioned, I have a ten drawer filing cabinet. The drawers are numbered and colored with the resistor colors. The case can be any form, ornate , made of ivory, chocolate, squat,tall, coat of arms… tall … It has ten drawers 0-9. It’s a convention. Any where I find one and whatever it looks like I can pull out the yellow banana drawer with a strong odor of banana and retrieve the contents. There might be something hanging on the handle. I don’t have to visualize the rest at the same time. I made that out of stuff I found in my head. It was a lazy choice. No shopping.

Is that a peg system or a memory palace? A drawer might hold a small jewelry box, or one item that is the first in a journey. The case might be used in a palace room or a on a locus. Long ago I memorized the resistor colors as a chain. It was one of the more offensive, hence memorable listed Resistor Band MnemonicsEventually I knew them individually and in order and I don’t clearly remember the mnemonic.

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Not at all.

This is how I look at it: A peg is something to hang something else on, like a peg in real life where you hang a coat. It’s simple, straightforward. I rarely use basic pegs, but when I do they’re for single, one-off associations (e.g., reminding me that I parked at B5). I would never use one of these simple pegs in a memory palace; there’s no point. In a memory palace, the location is the trigger that helps you recall the information; you don’t need any pegs. (One exception: Sometimes you will want to be able to recall that a particular item was, say, the 72nd one; for that, you’d need to associate a peg.)

The Major system (like the Dominic system variation) is a way of converting numbers to images. I use the Major system within a memory palace when I need to recall specific numbers associated with my images—not the order of the information but numbers related to it: dates, figures, pi, etc.

If the information I’m memorizing has no numbers associated with it at all—like my list of U.S. presidents (since my focus was on the names, not the years they served)—neither pegs nor Major are involved. Instead, my memory palace simply contains memorable images—usually puns or word-associations related to the people involved—placed at specific locations.

Of course, neither pegs nor Major—nor any other memory technique—requires the use of a memory palace or a location-based system. Using locations—whether contained within a “palace” or spread out along a “journey”—is a technique unto itself.


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