Memory palaces have too few loci/anchors/stations, how to increase loci?

I’m working on a US History memory palace. I am using a short computer game, What Remains of Edith Finch, as my starter palace. It is a short game (~3 hours), and very linear. I chose this game because it is very hand crafted, beautiful, emotional, and each part of the game feels very distinct. It is in the “walking simulator” game genre which doesn’t have combat or puzzles - it just tells a story, like an interactive movie. I’ve considered using larger games like Fallout or Skyrim, but I find that those games re-use the exact same graphical assets (trees, tables, beds, buildings, doors, characters, etc) so often that nothing feels unique, it all blurs together and is not a good memory palace for me. A great (or bad) example of that problem is Fallout 4. I loved playing that game, but when I try to use it as a memory palace, 100% of it in my mind just feels like the exact same drab, destroyed post-apocalyptic building repeated a million times.

I usually only place one image in each loci, except for numbers. For numbers I will link images into a mini story and I only need one loci for that. Numbers are not my problem. Words and concepts are my problem. Words and concepts are loci pigs, they consume loci voraciously.

Example - this one example, for me, required 15 loci:

1804 - Lewis and Clark expedition to explore West and find route to Pacific Ocean starts from St. Louis

So… Edith Finch. I re-played the game specifically to use it as a memory palace. I used video capture software to record myself playing it for later reference. As far as being memorable, the game worked out wonderfully as a memory palace. I can easily walk through the entire game in my head. But, there is a problem. A big one. By the end of the game, I had only reached 1838 in my US History timeline - still 180 years to go!

My problem with Edith Finch is the exact same problem I have with real world places. If I mentally walk into a room/area, I tend to want to use only memorable landmarks (loci, aka anchors, stations) to house my mnemonic images. In a room I know intimately, I might see a dozen landmarks. In a room that I know vaguely, I’ll only have 3-6 landmarks.

By the time I was done with Edith Finch, I only had around 450 loci in which to place images. All told, I need around 4000 loci for my entire US History timeline. I am feeling a little overwhelmed. I do not comprehend how to create palaces for thousands of images. I’ve read online and in books that you don’t want to cram too many loci into once space. For example, even if you know a room very well (like a room in your real world house), you don’t want to place images on every object and every corner of the room. You want to give the loci/anchors a little bit of breathing space, some physical and mental space between them.

But if I only use the memorable and important landmarks in a room, how can I create palaces for many thousands of images? For the game Edith Finch I could have easily chosen dozens of small objects in each room, rather than just a few easily memorable and natural major landmarks. I could have made Edith Finch into a 2000 or more loci palace. In a bedroom, I could have used all 10 objects on a bookshelf (books, flower vase, clock, small family photo frames, every little thing), every pillow and stuffed animal on a bed, and so forth. Would that be a mistake? If I did frequent reviews, I would eventually be able to remember the path, but obviously it would be very, very easy to forget some loci because they aren’t landmarks. They are just tightly packed random junk.

I can teleport to other places when I run out of space, such as when I reach the end of Edith Finch. I am not saying I expect Edith Finch to contain my entire US History timeline. That is not my concern. My concern is that there are no places in my head - based on the real world or fictional worlds - that have enough loci for thousands of images. Even if I use my own home (oddly, I have no used my home for any mnemonics yet), it would probably only give me a few hundred loci… unless, again, I used every little unimportant object in every room.

I’m looking for advice on how to drastically increase the number of loci/anchor points/stations available to me. If a possible answer is to just keep teleporting forever until I am done, I can do that. Or, I think I saw someone on the forum suggest shrinking yourself to 1 inch tall so every object in the room becomes a thing with many loci - I haven’t tried that yet.




Sounds like an ambitious project. Good luck with it.

You say your feel overwhelmed - well don’t! Your problem has been looked at and solved by many before you.

You asked for thoughts:
There have been many posts on the forum like this - we all have gone through the same problem. At one point or another,

This post from the archive details with images the whole idea:
Reusing Memory Palaces

But here’s a short recap - to

One way to tackle this - as you put it "‘to drastically increase the amount of loci’ was suggested by Tony Buzan (I presume we all know who he is) who suggested colour coding loci or imagining them in blocks of ice - I found that a little confusing so I future proofed it by using a Penrose Stair idea.

The idea is if you have ten or twelve loci on a route (in a room, around a city - it makes little difference all memory systems are the same) you number them 1,2,3,4,5, and when you get to the last one you go back to the beginning again - BUT it’s not the same place, it’s a level higher. or perhaps a different level.

You can reuse all of your current loci if they are routes by colour coding them or in somke way making them specific. But you need to number them Level 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 etc…

I use various methods but an easy one is to use colours - in the order that the colours of the rainbow are in. (which I take as Red(1), Orange (2), Yellow (3) Green (4), Blue (5), Purple (6) Pink (7) to which I added White (8), Bronze (9) Silver (10) Gold (11) and Black (12) etc…

Here’s some visuals to get your head around the idea:

This is a route in my home city. 12 streets in a ‘lap’. Images courtesy of Google Earth…

Same route with multiple levels.

Once you get your head around teh idea (AND NUMBER THE LOCATIONS!) it just seems like laps of the same circuits

This is a Penrose Stair:

You can even make the locations colour coded:

Do have a look at the original post, but I hope this gives you something to consider…



Thank you MMScot.

I have experimented with repeating the same palace. My experiment was an endless apartment building where I used the same loci (bed, bathroom, tub, refrigerator, etc) over and over. Each apartment was strongly themed to make it distinct. To get to the next apartment, I would step out the door and climb a staircase to the next floor. The apartment experiment was troublesome because I would often think of a loci, like the tub in the bathroom, and the images from multiple apartments popped into my head. I wasn’t sure which image belonged to this apartment, despite the theme.

I’m unsure if your suggestion is the same as my themed apartment building. I understand that each level, or lap in your penrose stair is color coded, so you’ll imagine everything in that lap saturated in, for example, red. What I don’t quite understand is your secondary use of color. In your “Red Octave Pitches” screenshot, there is, obviously, lots of red. But the arrows for your path are in different colors. Can you explain how that would work with an example? Let’s go with the apartment idea. I’m in the red apartment. I’m in the bathroom. The bathroom is saturated in red. I’m thinking about the tub. In the tub, I am going to place my major system image for the number 46, a cockroach. For you, how would the secondary color come into play here? Is it a red bathroom, with a green tub? A green roach? Am I misinterpreting the colored arrows in your screenshot?


Dear Boulder MMScot, no need to thank me, I find your project interesting. And your questions. Plus I am personally practicing being able to describe How To Use Memory Systems - so your feeback is invaluable for me - I am not a great writer when it comes to getting across abstract ideas.

[quote=“boulderKC, post:3, topic:46126, full:true”]
Thank you MMScot.

I’m unsure if your suggestion is the same as my themed apartment building. I understand that each level, or lap in your penrose stair is color coded, so you’ll imagine everything in that lap saturated in, for example, red.

What I don’t quite understand is your secondary use of color. In your “Red Octave Pitches” screenshot, there is, obviously, lots of red. But the arrows for your path are in different colors. Can you explain how that would work with an example?

Sorry about that, it must seem very confusing. It is to do with music.
The reasoning behind it is that example was to do with each colour coded ‘lap’ having twelve colour coded loci. A bit like a decimal place but in twelves… Green Green is the way i can shorthand colour code, so Green (- Octave three) and Green (third pitch). Blue red would be Octave five pitch one. While it does need the knowledge and ability to associate colours in the order they are in the rainbow with numbers of the red orange yellow green etc. order My system - makes sense in minutes to anyone who is tackling learning to read music.

But let’s not go there, let’s go to your apartment…

You wrote
Let’s go with the apartment idea. I’m in the red apartment. I’m in the bathroom. The bathroom is saturated in red. I’m thinking about the tub. In the tub, I am going to place my major system image for the number 46, a cockroach. For you, how would the secondary color come into play here? Is it a red bathroom, with a green tub? A green roach? Am I misinterpreting the colored arrows in your screenshot?

Perfectly reasonable questions! Thanks for the feedback - It is confusing that…
The thing I would ask you to park at the moment is this idea of ‘saturation’ - red for example. That’s not really how it works, the red (while a perfectly good visual help) is not the important part, it is the fact that it is the first level. I could not (well I do not think I could) imagine each loci as being floodlit or painted in the actual colour, but there would be an object unique to that level (and more importantly a permanent character…)

If I were using your apartment as a Penrose stair type memory palace… I’d use these stages:

  1. Map out the number of loci in the apartment. Number them all. For argument’s sake let’s say you have ten loci (I know you may have many more but just substitute however many you have by ten.)
  2. That’s the first level. Encoded as red. As this example is using the colour theme (color?!)
  3. The first level is red coded. Coded. Not painted.
  4. Decide how many loci you need, again for argument’s sake let’s say 60.
  5. Sixty divided by ten is six levels.
  6. So you need six colours. Red Level, Orange Level, Yellow Level, Green Level, Blue Level and what I call Purple Level, though others call it Indigo…
    7 Loci per level: 10, six levels: sixty loci.
  7. We are still at the prep stage here. And in memory systems prep is everything…


That’s ten per level, six levels. You need a PAO for this. or A peg system…

This is where you call up your PAO team. Each loci will have a caretaker or character who can take part int he action or just act as an observer. NOTE: These are permanent characters in each location, each loci. You can use the same character in multiple palaces. This device technique provides (at a one off cost) a way of numbering not using abstract numbers. The characters are not always involved in the action you encode there when you use the Palace, but if needed - they do help If you do not have this that’s fine but for really deeply encoding a location - imagining a person in that location doing is a major trick used by lots of memory Athletes (notably Memory Athlete Katie Kermode from whom I stole the idea!). While your PAO team can be generated according to any system you want, I personally use a PAO futureproofed* with alphabet initials - BD for 23 Bob Dylan, BH for 28 Ben Hogan, 60 is FN (I use N for Nil (or “nothing”) as I am not thinking “numbers” I am thinking two digit pairs… not numbers).

Getting back to the apartment -

If the ‘tub’ is loci number (say) five on that level, it will be number 15 on the next level, it will be number 25 in the one above that, so the tub will always be a 5. Red Level 5, Orange Level 15, Yellow Level 25, Green Level 35, Blue Level 45 and what I call Purple Level 55. Each of these loci will have a permanent character, so you know where you are.

To drill this - so that it is permanent in your mind, use repetition - do it today, this afternoon, tomorrow - you will get faster and faster until it is automatic. Run through the loci, one by one from one to sixty… then reverse sixty to one. See the laps as continuous, do not jump around. See the faces of the permanent characters and associate them with each lap. Sure you can have red colours coming into the idea but the number of the loci and the permanent character (who can play a part but that might not be needed)… After you have the list in your head - jump around vertically. Tub5, tub 15, tub 25 etc…

That may sound like a lot of work, but it is a one off process - giving you access to unlimited loci. I am not a memory athlete but I have about one hundred memory palaces and I can create a new one in minutes because I have been through this so many times.

So, you encode the image as [putting your cockroach in the tub with whoever the permanent character is - in this example red level five - that’s in the tub (presumably int he bathroom) red curtains or something with permanent character observer.

For me loci five would be the tub on level red with my permanent loci character with initials NE - Noel Edmonds (who you will never have heard of… Nelson Eddy, Nathan West and Nick Evans all jump to mind here). He would observe along with you the cockroach you want to recall. This is quite straightforward. He says something like “Okay I will look after your cockroach, just this once. I’ll keep it until you come back to find it again…” and you say “Thanks Noel”… Always be friendly with your permanent characters…!

I use a tub a lot myself - my permanent character in the shower is Dracula (Dracula Nosferatu = 40 it is also the dialing code for Romania), here she is looking at Ernest Borgnine (52) and Bob Dylan (24)…

46 for you is cockroach, for me the two digit pair is DF - (A portly comedy actress in the UK called Dawn French who memorable out splashing with her boyfriend jumping into puddles she pickes one which is about ten foot deep)

Anyway hope that helps!

Please do tell me what is confusing and what makes sense. (IF ANYTHING)

Kind Regards

GLASGOW, Scotland


This is actually part of the reason why Fallout 4 became one of the first in my artificial memory palace project (Link) It gives a minor challenge on creating a vibe that makes certain things unique.

Not exactly, with some asterixes. If you view it as actual events happening in the space of your memory palace, you are right. However, what if you view the memory palace as a mnemonic to memorize a peg list? I actually have a memory palace planned for the shared page, which has 250 knowledge-based loci (meaning that the effectiveness depends on your familiarity with the objects) in a building the size of a small home. So incredibly packed, and a lot of work to turn into a tour, but hopefully finished this weekend.

That is just one building. The full town will have 10 palaces, which I aim to turn into a 2000-loci place with very dense placement. A challenge, but possible.

That does pose a solution to a problem you adressed as well: no palace has thousands of loci.

A single palace will not quickly reach thousands of loci, but a combination of palaces can. The sanctuary artificial palace is a way to do that: a small town with numerous buildings that are each their own palace. Combined, the sanctuary palaces are good for 1201 loci. Red Rocket (the anticipated 2000-loci hub) is right next to it so I could even use both and already have 3201 loci set to go. Combined, the two hubs are 30 palaces, so nothing too hard.

Need more? Submerge the hubs and swim through under-water palaces. Different physics, different palace, and boom, 6402 loci in just 30 palaces.


K -

In the small example of an apartment with 10 loci, and 6 levels, are there 60 unique permanent characters? Or, do permanent characters repeat at, for example, locations 3, 13, 23, 33, 43, etc. - because that is position “3” for each lap, and there is a PAO character that represents “3”?

I have follow-up questions depending on your answer…


Maya -

Your tour of Sanctuary does seem memorable. When I re-installed Fallout4, perhaps I ran around too quickly. At the time, I had re-installed half a dozen games (thank you, Steam!) looking for a good memory palace, and I was running around like crazy. I’ll re-install Fallout4 again and take it more slowly. And now that I have software to record my gameplay (free open source software called OBS Studio, works great), that’ll help. I did not have gameplay recording software yet when I re-installed Fallout4.

Meanwhile - using memory palace loci as anchors for a peg list? Interesting. When I think of a peg list, I usually think of the alphabet or sequential numbers. Lists I don’t have to memorize, because I’ve had them internalized since childhood. Is that what you are referring to?

When you enter a room in your head, let’s say there is a couch, a coffee table, a TV, and a fireplace, in that order. What would be an example of having a peg list at the couch, and another at the coffee table, and so forth? Maybe a short bit of the alphabet, like A-D, sprouting from each of the loci? Apple, bat, cat, door? Maybe something crazy like the whole alphabet?


60 Unique characters yes. (It might be useful for you to look at one of the many PAO posts on the forum PA0 stands for Person Action Object - it is incredibly powerful for remembering long strings of numbers).

There is a PAO character for 03 as every two digit combination from 00-99 has a character. Many people use the Dominic System but I don’t personally use that system. I personally use N for a 'zero or a nothing - I think of it as “NIL” - as that is how football scores are read out on the radio/Tv over here - (proper football with a round ball you understand?!). My 03 character is NC Nicolas Copernicus (medieval astronomer who said we go around the sun and not the other way around) Remember these are characters just to make sure that you know where you are.

I hope that helps.


K -

If there is a permanent PAO character in each position, and the PAO system you use only has two digit characters for 00-99, does that mean each location is limited to 99 loci? What do you do when you want to remember hundreds or thousands of things? Do you move on to a different location? Such as your example with Google Maps where you were using a lap around your neighborhood that you repeat as a penrose stair. When you reach 99 loci, do you mentally go to another location to do laps until you reach 99 there, and then go to another location for the next 99, rinse and repeat?

Nelson Dellis has a pretty good explanation of a PAO system (nothing new, but well written) in his book “Remember It”. I did not learn his PAO system for myself because I don’t have any plans to remember large numbers. Remembering numbers in 2 digit chunks with a simple 00-99 major system has been satisfactory for me, and learning 100 characters, 100 actions, and 100 objects for a PAO system sounds like a lot of work. However, a 2 digit major system doesn’t provide characters (people). So… PAO, sure, why not. Learning a PAO is a lot of work, but this sounds like a good reason to do that work.


Hi BoulderKC,

The simple answer is - no - because a PAO system (or any two digit system) can be extended to three, four, five or six digits, from - 000000 to 999999, that’s nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine different one, two, three, four, five and six digit pairs. (Someone once asked me how do I use a PAO with one digit? Like the number 246? That to me is a null combination Bob Dylan (s4) becasome 246 - Bob Dylan holding a Six-Gun), gun being my null action for a two digit pair where only the six is seen) People get so confused! One digit for me is a ‘null’ plus a peg person so it is either X1 or 1X, X =null) so you need 00-99 plus pegs or nulls for 0X-9X as single digits.

How you do it is up to you.

The idea I suggested of a permanent character in each location is only to remember the order of locations. Loci are not the problem! The human brain has infinite storage capacity - storage capacity is not the problem! The problem is retrieval. Which is why we associate information with locations, with people, with routes, with actions… That’s the difficult bit.

I hope you will agree that using the Penrose stair / lap idea that you need never run out of loci but … I am suggesting you need to keep tabs on them, arrange them according to a system, and that was the only reason I suggested a PAO (because it is so powerful). But you can use the major system or any other system to keep track of where your information is stored.

You asked me what I do: For music, for scripts, for presentations and for mathematics - where there is loads of information to encode - what I do is set up entire “memory skyscrapers” of memory palaces - each floor the same layout - each a Penrose Stair… These (for me) include golf courses, houses, castles… (we are blessed with Castles in Scotland… ), hospitals, routes around the city centre (as you have seen) - mine are almost always real places I have been to - or explored in depth on line - I do not use imaginary places much. But that’s what I do not what you should do.

Hope that makes sense


A little bit different than that.

In memory palaces, there is a huge strength in spatial aspects. You can see your couch and physically move to the table to see what is there, followed by the tv and fireplace. However, if those are too close together, images can be hard to form for me occasionally.

A peg list works differently in my mind. A peg list has no spatial aspect. It is a place in the form of an object in empty space.

In my dense palaces, I combine those things. I walk through a space mentally until I see the couch, then the couch gets isolated in space. I see my image there, in that empty space. Then I move back to my palace, where my image has vanished to allow me to move to the next piece of furniture.

That is my way to deal with cluttered loci. Others here have been doing different techniques for that, like shrinking yourself so the loci become “large”. However, to me shrinking is a marker. Aside from the submerged palace, a marker I use to change an existing palace is shrinking myself to get a whole different scale of things.

K -

Ok, I see how you handle numbers after 99 for each location. I like it. That’s why I keep asking questions - I plan to build some large Penrose-like palaces for myself. Your answers have been very helpful.

I like the idea of permanent characters. I like it a lot. In my two digit major system I have a few (very few) numbers that are people. For example, when I started learning the major system, I made the mistake of using the word “tough” for the number 18 (“t” and “f” sounds). “Tough” is a horrible mnemonic image, it is too hard to imagine. Later, “tough” became The Incredible Hulk in my mind. The Hulk is a pretty tough guy. When I eventually learned all the US Presidents and the years of their terms, there were a lot of years in the 1800s. The Hulk showed up over and over. At first, I thought it was too repetitive. But, then, I came to enjoy having him in the scene. All kinds of crazy things happened to the Hulk. In a way, he felt like a participant on the journey. He made the 1800’s more memorable and fun. Hulk years are my favorite years in my US Presidents memory palace.

I am almost thinking I don’t need a full PAO system. All I really want are the people, and then I can use the major system for the additional digits. The permanent character in position 993 can be person 99 interacting with whatever I want to use for 3, or 3Nil. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll just learn a 00-99 “P” system - without the AO.


Maya -

Are you still using a peg list like what I was describing? Such as the alphabet? A-D being (for me) apple, bat, cat, door? Are you then using a peg list concept like A-D on the isolated couch? Or is your style of peg list something completely different?

I like this idea of isolating the couch. Taking it out of the living room, letting it exist in “couch world” so you can do big, crazy things with it, and then returning it back to the living room when you are ready to continue the journey. That would give every little object in a room infinite “breathing space”, rather than cramming things too close together. That is almost like teleporting - rather than teleporting to another palace, you teleport to couch world. This is a bit of a new concept to me. Have you described it more fully on the forums, or can you maybe link to a longer description?


I do use a few of those lists, but I don’t use them together with the memory palaces. The combination of peg and palace is just the isolation bit when adding the images :slight_smile:

I don’t have a description yet, but I will see if I can make one. Especially since my recently posted palaces in my Fallout topic require me to memorize information that way.

There is a goldmine of information in this thread! Thank you to all who contributed here :slight_smile:

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I am glad you find it of interest.

Of course! You have no idea how logical your argument is and I Analysing my own memory work recently I very very seldom use a full PAO for anything other than long strings of numbers (which is not often - and becoming less often all the time…) Right enough I have my whole family’s telephone numbers and passport numbers all encoded using that PAO system - but that’s not exactly crucial information - I am sure they are written down somewhere or stored on a telephone…

I do use a PAOS (Person Action Object Symbol) for my own music system - but I only need to use that eight digit system for very complicated music. Now do not get me wrong the PAO system is excellent for speed numbers (which I wonder if anyone else has noticed is by a curious coincidence seem to be in groups of six… ah! yes that’s why it is a PAO system! It was developed to do this speed numbers and cards idea) and when combined with a PAO system for the Alphabet )yes I have one of those - you should hear the speed I can recite the alphabet backwards at!) it is even more powerful - I have never used it in anger but can (like George Smiley memorise every number plate of every car in the street). I did teach (well teach is strong word - I showed might be more accurate) a pupil - from this forum how to combine a PAO Number and Peg system - and he was very impressed with it, though I am not sure what his use was for. Memorising codes and passwords and number plates - I see that just as practice for more serious, more interesting work - such as your project. I’d personally love to have history in my brain…

Take care and do tell me how you get on - PM or on the board.

Kind Regards
K, Glasgow Scotland

K -

I finally finished my “P” list (just people, no action or object) for 00-99, and I am beginning to memorize some random number pairs for practice. I most certainly do not have my list of people memorized yet, currently I am just referring to a spreadsheet. For initial practice, I am now only memorizing 60 pairs of numbers in a small 10 loci palace. As long as I stay under 99, my people will be unique. However, I am thinking ahead to when I will be memorizing hundreds or thousands of things, and it occurs to me that the following will occur:

I will get to my 100th loci. I will use “10” (A + O = Annie Oakley, a famous exhibitionist sharpshooter woman from the early 1900s) plus my “numbers as shapes” image for “0” (a pill). So, Annie Oakley shooting pills from her rifle. No problem, so far so good.

But, wait, that means I will have 10 Annie Oakleys in a row. 100, 101, 102… to 109. Later, when I eventually reach loci 1000, I will have 100 Annie Oakleys in a row! 1000, 1001, 1002… to 1099.

Oh, my. That’s a lot of Annie Oakleys. Even if every Annie is interacting with a unique object representing a second number, I am concerned all of those Annies will become indistinct and hard to tell apart.

Does a full PAO system avoid this problem? Or does it have the same problem? Or is it a problem at all? Maybe 100 Annie Oakley’s in a row, as long as they are combined with a unique image for the second number, will remain unique in my mind… ?



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K -

After I asked about “too many Annie Oakleys”, I realized that people do not generally learn a PAO system in order to have mnemonic images for a sequential series of numbers. PAO is not usually used to remember “01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06… 1000, 1001, 1002…”. After all, nobody needs to memorize how to count. We already know how to count. Instead, PAO is usually used to remember, say, a phone number, or a any other long number.

So, that means this problem of too many Annie Oakleys is unique to those of us trying to make a sequential, numbered list of loci.

Anyway, K, I am still curious how you handle this. Or if you see it as a problem at all.


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My god you are keen! I have read both of your replies. I am flattered that you ask …

I ran into exactly the same problem using a PAO designed for multiples of two digit pairs then found to my horror that three digit pairs don’t divide by two. Not without problems anyway.

Here’s some feedback:

100 Annie Oakley’s in a row is a challenge if you are thinking like that.
Sorry to say that… but it can be fixed.
You would have to change your system.

By thinking of lap ten simply as Annie Oakley’s lap - it is a bit like breaking down into chunks.

But what I would not (NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS) do is have a separate character for each loci for the first ten laps then switch to a lap per character from eleven onwards. I mean to say, Annie won’t mind the work but your brain might get confused between 89 on the eighth lap and then number 899 on the 89th lap.

That’s a classic mistake in memory systems - not future proofing.
To future proof that you would have to start over and make the tenth lap Annie’s Lap and peg them 10.1, 10.2. 10.3 etc… using symbols or pegs for the part after the decimal…

That’s a solution…

But your problem really interests me so…


As Richard Feyman said (speaking as a physicist using maths) - you go across to the Maths Department where they are playing around with their differential equations and knock on the door, when some Joe comes to the door you tell him you have a problem and wonder if there is something someone has already done in the maths department that could help you - and if there is you use it - but if not - you walk back over and sit at your desk and make your own.

In the same way - we practical memorisers have the resources of memory going back to the Greeks - through Giordano Bruno right up to giants like Dominic O’Brian and the present crop of memory athletes - if they have disclosed something that can help - we will use it … and if not… we sit down and we make our own. Usually the solution will be simple - but the way to get to it might be very very complicated and fry your brain. But once the solution is there, on paper - it will be simple.

So, the problem here is that if we have a route with 10 Loci and which is repeated on ten levels or laps we are simply going to run into the three into two problem. While the above solution (ten loci per character - one lap per character - that works and I would recommend it. But we are exploring here… so - if I may I’ll prattle on for a few minutes.


A full PAO (two digit system) will not help - as you and me and countless others have discovered - a Person (representing 2 digits - I will say for argument’s sake that your system is A=1 B=2 and O equals zero, that works for Annie Oakley)

I am going to go through this slowly - for my benefit - not yours.

  1. You have decided to increase the number of loci by using a Penrose Stair idea. I get that.
  2. Ten loci in different laps. Laps are designated by some system - maybe colours or some other system you have created. I get that too.

The amount of laps you can do is unlimited in theory. To get 26 Laps you could use A-Z
The problem is the permanent character a PEG character. Using initials…

Let’s just reiterate for my benefit WHY you and me and others have these characters? Why do we put a permanent character in each location in this system? The idea comes from Memory Athletes such as Katie Kermode. And is used to help remember the place in order. The character might not actually play any part in the encoded information you are storing at their location. But… they might.

And you don’t want Annie doing all the work from 100 - 109 … unless…ahahah… I can imagine Annie doing one lap herself…

Yup. Well put!

Let’s just say straight out that one solution (not the one you are looking for) - is to limit laps time loci per Memory Palace to 99. That’s one solution. But not the one that solves your problem.

So how can we solve this?
Unlimited laps … I personally do not think this a good idea. But it is the problem you are trying to solve.

Give you some thoughts:

One solution is possibly to use the null concept mentioned in this thread above. I described the concept of the “null” - a digit pair? Where you ignore one blank digit?

It is very simple. But I did not explain it very well (as I never thought in a million years you would be needing it… how wrong was I???)

The important part here is EITHER X1 or 1X = null

The essential part of having
10 = Annie Oakley
101 = NULL 1 + A OR 10 plus Null 1

Bearing in mind that I do not care about the person - only the location and knowing somehow how to mark that location with a “character”. or a symbol…

101 could be someone with the initials JA (tenth letter of the alphabet is J)
But I know what you are going to say - that’s only going to work up until I run above 26…
And your objection is valid…

I played around with this as an extension of my PAOS (person action object symbol) system I use for music and just extended it beyond 100 using J for 10th Letter and so having characters with initials JN, JA,JB. JC, JD, JI, then KN (by a curious coincidence my own initials!) KA, KB… but it is clumsy and I only really needed to go up to KB = 112 for music. (If a piano keyboard were extended beyond the normal 88 keys piano key number 112 counting from left would be a C9 (middle C is C4) and human ears stop hearing the sounds just above KB or C9 (which is 16,744Hz - a piccolo can play that just about but humans stop hearing around around 20,000Hz) - my PAOS was developed for that - a lot less complicated than US history)…

So here is another suggestion: SEPARATE PAO for 00-99 and (1)00-(1)99 etc

Another simple solution is to have a separate 2 digit PAO for each ‘century’ of numbers.
Annie Oakley = 10 on first lap = 010

Aristotle Onasis = 10 on second lap = 110

Alan Oranutang = 210 (no law against making up your own characters) (for example 19 for me is no AI = Artificial Intelligence = Voice of Siri)

That’s getting pretty complicated. The peg function just might get more complicated than the stuff you are trying to remember.

Change your system so that you only have one character per lap. Like they are running relay.

Using a ten loci per lap that gets you to 10 x 100 = 100 laps = 1000 loci…

Hope that helps in some small way… Not sure it does!

Tell us how you get on…

(BTW it would help if you could describe more about what you are encoding - dates names etc or full on chronicles)


Hi K!

So, I have spent nearly a month working on this system, the one you suggested. It was a great suggestion, and I want it to work, but I think I will need to abandon it. Unless maybe you can think of further additions that might improve it. So far, you’ve had so many great ideas, maybe you can still save the day.

The problem:

First, let’s talk about a traditional memory palace. Your bedroom. Your bedroom with 10 loci (anchor points). When you create your journey, you simply go from anchor to anchor, placing your images. Simple enough. The magic with a standard palace like this is that it is very, very sticky. For me, I will place my images. Then I will immediately review what all 10 anchors and images. The next day, I’ll review it again. A week later, I’ll review it again. A month later, I’ll review it once more. By then, it is solid. It is easy. It is a system that has been around for thousands of years and it works.

So, now a quick walk through the new system. We’ll use the same bedroom with 10 anchors. We’ll use my first “00” character, Olive Oyl (Popeye’s girlfriend). After significant trial and error, I’ve determined that Olive Oyl needs to perform some action with the image in order for this work for me. So, let’s say my first image is for something that sounds like “train”. I imagine Olive Oyl in the driver’s seat of a train, pulling the chord to sound the horn. This is happening around the first anchor, the entrance to the closet. No problem, so far so good, this is all pretty easy.

Where things go bad: the reviews. I’ll immediately review my new palace. Some of the images don’t come to mind, but that’s ok, it is still a new palace, it needs review. I’ll review it again the next day. Usually 3-4 images don’t return, I will need to use context (what was the previous image? what is the next image?) to remember the image, sometimes it can take several minutes to do this, sometimes it won’t come to me until I come back to it much later. Eventually, I will remember. This still isn’t a huge problem, I can handle a few extra reviews. So, I’ll review it again the same day. I’ll still struggle with some images, something ones that I easily remembered before. I’ll review again the next day. I always end up struggling with a few images. I repeat the next day, same problem. I’ll repeat the next day - ok, now I am able to remember all images, I’ll review again a few days later - damn, I’ve lost a few images. I’ll repeat this cycle a dozen times. Eventually the images become solid. This system does work. But the number of reviews required is crazy.

Later, when I go to recall an image when I actually want to use the information, the retrieval is not great. It works, but I sometimes confuse “was that Olive Oyl interacting with a train at the closet entrance, or Annie Oakley?” I can always figure it out by referencing the previous and next image, but that extra effort is unfortunate. The recall is not great, but it works, and it is not the primary problem with this system. The number of reviews is the problem.

I’ve been putting massive effort into making this work. I want it to work. Having an infinite number of loci is incredibly appealing to me. I dread the alternative. For me, because I have a very poor memory of the real world places I’ve been, I will need to go virtual. I will either use computer games (see Mayarra’s many posts on the topic of games), or I will create my own imaginary palaces (see posts by Nagime, he is the king of creating his own palaces). Both games and imaginary palaces work fabulously for me, but the amount of time required to play (and record for later reference) the game or create my own imaginary palaces is huge. Neither is difficult for me, they just take a lot of time. I’d rather be memorizing stuff than spending all my time creating palaces.

Maybe there is still something I can do to improve it. But, wow, when I go back in my head to review my traditional palaces, they come back to me so easily, and I remember how easy they were to first use. Whereas this system requires tremendous effort (mostly due to reviews) before it will work.

It has been a fascinating experiment.


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