Binary Numbers You Can See

Binary Numbers You Can See

In Dominic O’Brien’s book, BRILLIANT MEMORY, on page 143, there is a list of eight different groups of 3 digit binary numbers.

For my own amusement, I decided to look at each individual group and see what IMAGE it would share with me.

This is the way I came up with my Visual Alphabet where each letter is represented by an image that resembles that particular letter. For example, the letter K, if tilted to the right 90 degrees looks like a picnic table (maybe). Then with that image I can peg info on top, each side, and the bottom. Keeping that in mind, let’s go back to the Binary experiment.

Before I actually looked at the groups, I thought about different images the ONE (1) and the ZERO (0) could be. The ONE (1) could resemble a fence post, golf club, bowling pin (think hard), etc. The ZERO (0) might be a person’s head, wheel, ball and so on it goes.

Here are the 8 images I came up with:

000 = 3 heads, The 3 STOOGES (000). Can you seem them, Larry, Curly, & Moe? You just can’t think of one without the other two showing up.

001 = Two Eyes or Glasses (00) staring at a Wall (1) looking at an Optical Eye Chart.

011 = Bowling Ball (0) demolishing a 2 Pin Split (11). After awhile, the bowling ball is the cue for the whole image.

111 = 3 Fence Posts (111). Pretty obvious.

110 = 2 Horns (11) on a Bull goring a Matador’s Face (0). Maybe a comic rendition of this gory scene. Yea for the bull.

100 = a Putter (1) putting a Golf Ball (0) into the Cup (0).

010 = a Military Canon supported by a wheel on each side (010). Here’s the sequence: WHEEL (0), CANON (1), WHEEL (0)

101 = a Soccer Ball rolling in for a Goal. I see the goal posts on each side and the ball is in the center. Here’s the sequence: goal post (1), ball (0), goal post (1)

So, now I can test my Binary Images by putting all 8 of the 3 digit groups around the letter K (picnic table) that I mentioned earlier by Linking:

  1. the 1st Group to the 2nd and placing them on TOP of the table (K).
  2. the 3rd Group to the 4th and placing them to the RIGHT of the table.
  3. the 5th Group to the 6th and placing them at the BOTTOM of the table.
  4. the 7th Group to the 8th and placing them to the LEFT of the table.

If you fill up the whole Visual Alphabet like we did on the letter K, that would be around 624 binary digits. Is that right?

Suppose, you added a Lady Alphabet (from A to Z), a Male Alphabet, an Animal Alphabet, etc… what would that add up to?


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wow your images are great and the visual alphabet is cool it like i kind of learn a new this also helps to generate so many pegs as,you said.thank for sharing.

Thanks Martin…
To me, seeing the 1s and 0s as the images, gives the feeling of bypassing an association although I really don’t.


That is a clever system. For me I’ve spent a lot of time setting up my 00-99 PAO/major system, so I try to attach each new memory task to that. For binary numbers my system is pretty simple:

Break the binary into groups of 3 digits, convert to base 10, pair those digits and convert to PAO.

Here are the possible groups of 3 ones and zeros, paired with their base 10 equivalent:

000 = 0
001 = 1
010 = 2
011 = 3
100 = 4
101 = 5
110 = 6
111 = 7

So, let’s say I have the following:


010 = 2
111 = 7

in my PAO system the person for 27 is NiCK (Cave, the singer)

010 = 2
010 = 2

The action for 22 weaNiNg (the image I use for this is feeding baby food)

100 = 4
101 = 5

The object for 45 is a RoLex watch

So we get Nick Cave eating baby food off his Rolex watch. Or if you prefer, a giant Rolex watch in a baby chair, and Nick is feeding it some of Gerber’s finest mush. Or whatever works for you. As you can see, 18 digits get reduced to one image. For a longer binary you could use a memory palace and place each image along the journey. Just 3 images would be 54 digits. That’s a lot!

While my system entails more “translating” than the image system Garylanier is using above, it results in more variation in the images. I suspect this would make a long string of binary digits easier to handle.

I hope this is helpful.

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Hello outlawyr,
I suspect you’re right. I’m not a tournament caliber memory person.

The 00-99 PAO/major system is one the standards for fast memorization.

What I presented was not for that at all.

What I shared was from a 30 minute fling in focused visualization that hardly needed any translation at all.

I simply looked at each of the 8 group combinations and they more or less presented their own images, so to speak.

Then, I pegged them around the letter K (picnic table on its side) another visual image. Pretty simple stuff.

I couldn’t translate my way out of a paper bag, but I can see images and I can place them in sequentially prepared memory positions such as a Visual Alphabet.

Visual Memorization is fun,


I agree with you, visual memorization is fun. Far more so than the more elaborate systems. But now that I have this PAO system worked out I feel the urge to apply it whenever possible.

In the end, whatever works is what’s best. Making it fun definitely helps a lot.

lol… I agree with you, too.

You paid the price of learning a powerful memory system, so why not use it.

Sweet! :smiley:
I used the same idea when learning my PAO for 6 digit binary numbers. That is, I used the major system and the convertion to base 10 but then to quickly learn to convert from binary to persons I used visual associations.


000101 - Sal Khan (Three pupils and then Sal enthusiasticly raising his arms trying to learn them something cool!)
111110 - Kaj Fuxelius - a painter (With his head to the right and the bristles(?) of the brush to the left.)
101100 - Lara Croft (1011 = some kind of super weapon with a ball of energy and a handlebar to the right, and 00 = her… yeah, you know!)

It really helped me learn them, and now I use them in competitions.

That’s really cool, Snillsparv…very Visual.(laugh) 8)

I’ve never used any of my systems in competition… Only in my make believe world and I win every

For me, using your numbers and pegging them around one LETTER of a VISUAL ALPHABET (with 4 peg positions) it would look something like this:

000 101 - [000 - The Three Stooges] playing [101 - SOCCER] at Position #1 of the VISUAL ALPHABET LETTER.
111 110 - [111 - FENCE with 3 POSTS] containing a [BULL (2 horns) & MATADOR (0= his head)] at Position #2.
101 100 - [101 - a Soccer Ball rolling in for a Goal] hitting [a Putter (1), putting a Golf Ball (0), into the Cup (0)] at Position #3.

That leaves me room for another 6 digits for position #4 of that particular VISUAL ALPHABET LETTER.

After I go through the VISUAL ALPHABET, I can continue with the LADIES ALPHABET, MEN’S ALPHABET, & ANIMAL ALPHABET.

After that, it’s time to go to bed. :slight_smile:

Good luck in the competitions. I don’t see how you guys do it. Amazing!


Something interesting I saw was this.

It may be useful for adding a kinesthetic component to the memorization of bit strings. I’m thinking that if you practice enough with the hand symbols then it should work like abacus methods of arithmetic through muscle memory. Seems like it probably passes the point of diminishing returns, but I could see it adding to recall for extremely long bit strings with training.

Interesting concept, Loki.

My kinesthetic senses could use a work out.

Could you share a real example of incorporating your idea? Like how would you use your kinesthetic component to remember 3 bit strings of 24 digits each?


Gary – I like your creative ideas for memory systems. :slight_smile:

I have hand movements for the nine vowels in my mnemonic systems (PDF). Running through my 000-999 syllables over and over did create a little bit of synesthetic relationship between the vowels and a sense of a movement. It doesn’t work like an abacus, but I think that it does create another association.

See also: Developing a Mnemonic System for Music

All my images also rhyme. Example: 14, 24, 34, 44, 54, etc. all rhyme (TA, NA, MA, RA, LA) and have the same movement based on the vowel (4 = A).

Some images have their own movement – even if I don’t physically complete it, my mind goes through the motion…

Thank you Josh. I’m checking out your mnemonics sys PDF right now. I like the idea of using vowels as well as consonants. A lot for me to think about.

I also like the HAND movement concept. Anything that gives just a bit more accent to what you memorize helps. Reminds me of Solfege (do re mi etc) where there is a hand symbol for each note in the chromatic scale.

I have a 5 finger sequence that helps me when going over a verbatim passage of scripture or (cards or numbers).

For example, using your name, JOSH, gives me 4 visual letters with 4 positions on each one. I either peg 4 words, cards or numbers on each position (peg) OR as I’ve said before, I can easily double this by peg and link on each position.

Anyway, this is where the HAND helps. My THUMB keeps tabs on each letter as its turn comes up, and my 4 fingers (1,2,3,4) represent the 4 positions.

I begin by looking at the first letter (J ), starting at the TOP (position 1) and reading like a clock. I then, press my Thumb down on my leg or table. The rest of my fingers are up just a bit off my leg (table, etc). As I look at the 1st position, my 1st Finger (index) goes down beside my Thumb touching my leg as I peg my first IMAGE (word, card, number). I do this with all 4 positions, then start all over again by going to the next letter and pressing my THUMB down as I focus on the next letter (O).

When I do this with verbatim scripture memorization, usually the LETTERS in the first WORD are enough to hang the whole verse on. This is because I have several different alphabets I use if one isn’t enough.

Sometimes for fun, I start at the end of the verse and go backwards using my fingers and thumb to keep me on track.

So, HAND MOVEMENT helps me in mnemonic memorization.

Thanks again for sharing you concepts and also for this incredible website.

I didn’t realize you are a musician. Music is my life. I’m a composer/arranger/orchestrator/songwriter.
I have a few hundred publications with several publishers like Hal Leonard.

I’m just now looking at your Mnemonic System for Music in progress. This my friend is an interesting idea.

Keep me posted on this journey.

I will… I don’t know if I will ever be able to play again, but I may work on a mnemonic system for music later.

You might consider a measure by measure approach (one picture=one mea). Then, peg or link the pics together.

Notation is not the music. To me it’s like a graph that shows where everything is. I can see someone coming up with something that is basically mechanical. Actually, printed music is somewhat mnemonic, don’t you think? It just needs more imagery.