My Approach to Pi (to 120 digits)

I know many here will laugh at memorizing pi to only 120 digits, but I don’t compete and merely wanted to do it as a test for fun. My approach may seem elementary to some, but I thought it might be worth sharing.

I’m breaking up pi (after the initial “3.”) into groups of six digits. I’m using the Major system. To keep my groups of six distinct, I decided to start each group with a person, who would then interact with the next two objects in the group. For 120 digits, I just needed 20 loci.

Example: The first group of six is 141592 (again, dropping the initial “3.”). That’s Debbie Reynolds (Hollywood star) holding a doll in one hand and a giant bone in the other. The next group is 653589. That’s John Lennon riding a mule that is vaping.

My memory palace is the grounds of the local library in my hometown. All 20 loci actually fit on the sidewalk surrounding the library. So I still have an entire library to use if I ever decide to keep going.

I’ll probably stop at 120, though. So far, no one among my family or friends is the least bit interested in hearing me recite any digits of pi…



I agree, not many people are interested to see if we can recite 100s of digits of pi, so for that reason I stopped at 100 myself.

However, you’ll almost always impress them when you memorise their mobile phone numbers within a matter a few seconds.

I once challenged four of my friends to write down their phone numbers, along with 10 random words each, and 12 binary digits each and that I would memorise it all within 3 to 4 minutes. I just loved seeing their jaws drop when I did it :slight_smile: They were certainly impressed and thought I was very intelligent even tho I told them I was using memory methods.


That actually is pretty impressive. I’m not sure I’d have the speed to memorize all of that in under 10 minutes.


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in the UK most cell/mobile phone numbers start with 07, so I eliminate that immediately.
The rest is to memorise 9 digits at a time for each phone.
I chunk them into four digits, so I’d need 2 loci, and with the last remaining digit, I use it with the first digit. So lets say the phone number was; 07 - 123456789,
I’d have 1234 5678
and I have the 9 left to use with the first digit which is 1 so its 91. Which makes it easier to recall the first number. This would take me about 10 to 15 seconds or so. With practice you’ll also be able to do this better and quicker if you are new to memorising.
As for the memory palace I use the body system for their phone number with 3 locis. Meaning I use their body to store the data. It then gives me 7 other locis to store the words and the binary digits. So it’s not all that difficult.

When you say “body system,” are you referring to Ron White’s approach? (It’s described here: Skeleton Files for Simple Lists .) I don’t know that he created it, but it seems to be associated with him.

I’d appreciate getting a better picture of exactly what you’re doing in the scenario you described. Can you walk me through it step by step? I’m not a memory novice, but it’s an approach I’ve not encountered before (and I’ve read a lot of memory books).

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The body system is well known with memorisers. It’s usually used for a small list, such as 10 items shopping list etc.

I use the body system as “A Palace On The Fly” for short term memory.
So If I was to memorise a few pieces of data of the person, such as a phone number, their job, home town etc, I just use the body of the person who is in front of me, or I just simply use one of my Dominic character’s body for a palace on the fly.

As for the scenario walk thru;
I use the body of the person, starting from the hair, eyes, nose. This 3 location is what I’d need for the phone number as explained before. You can also use the environment of the person, like his left side, right side, front of him, above him etc.

For example, for the phone number I mentioned above;
1234 5678

The first loci is Hair and I use 4 digits at a time.
12 : Abbie
34 : Milk

I just imagine the action is happening on top of the person’s hair. So Abbie is sitting down on his hair with a glass of milk in hand, pouring it down the person’s hair, making a mess. And so on with the next 2 locations which are the eyes and the nose.

I will then have 7 other locations left on the body to use for the Binary Digits.
I use Binary digit system for the binary which I convert 3 binary digits into a single number digit, so for 12 binary digits I will have 4 number digits, which again is a single loci.

I’ll have 6 Locis left to use for words or anything I want to use it for.

As for the 10 Words, I just use 2 words at a time to create a mini-story and attach that to 5 locations. It still leaves me 1 loci left :slight_smile:

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I’m impressed with your treatment of Pi. I would think you would link the people to objects and then actions with or onto those objects. Kind of Noun - Verb - Direct Object relation.

Keep at it though. There is little reason for most of what we do in life as far as our friends are interested. A good arbitrary boundary/limit of decimals might be the circumference of some (large) object and a know precision in inches to 1 x 10 to the -xxx places.

I do not think I’ve forgotten that much but I cannot get Abbie to or from 12. I’m sure it must be another system.

Not to speak for Erol, but I’m guessing he’s using a system that associates 1-26 with the letters of the English alphabet, where A is the first letter and B the second…so: AB (Abbie) equals 12.

For me, PAO is not worth the effort unless you’re memorizing playing cards. I’m sure it can have other applications, but for me Major is far simpler and, frankly, much more memorable.



Thanks, I had not thought of that. Sounds plausible. There are many methods.

Plungerman, I used Abbie for 12 from the Dominic system as RMBitner guessed.
A - 1
B - 2

Dominic system uses ten letters to represent all digits from 0-9.
So I don’t use the whole alphabet.

As for 34, this is a number shape I use for Goat. Lift 3 horizontally and place it on top of 4, it looks like a Goat (or a Dear). And when I think of goat, I think of goat Milk. So Milk is 34 for me. And when I see Milk, I always use the same action: Pour milk onto the next object or the loci.
But I also sometimes use it for the Person to Drink it, depending on if I have already used it within the same mini-story. So If I had 1234 and then 1534 for example, I will have Abbie pouring the Milk, and then have Einstein drinking a glass of milk.


I’m not a memory expert, but have dabbled for the last few decades, but without the dedication of others here. But I recently learnt Pi to 100 digits and also taught my daughter it (aged 11) and she learnt it in literally minutes. I’d done the preparation for her to do it that quickly (I just had to tell her the images to remember) but it didn’t take me long to do that.

So - if you know the major system then I know that you can easily remember Pi to 120 digits if you want.

The method I used is simple - literally so that an 11-year-old can do it. It does require that you know the major system (which I’d previously taught my daughter) and I then broke the digits up into 5-digit blocks, which I converted into words and made a story to fit around them. I couldn’t make 1 word for the 5-digit blocks, I usually split them into 2/3 or 3/2. Once I had to split them into a 2/2/1 grouping.

We actually initially just learnt the first 30 digits, then decided to do the next 30 (as it was so easy) and then decided to do the next 40 to get to a nice, round 100. So we actually split it into 3 short stories.

I’ll not tell you the stories I came up with as it’s better if you make one up that you can remember yourself. But it worked for us as it’s just a short story for each 30 or 40 digits, without needing to worry about placing them at locations. Once I’d made the story I could just tell my daughter it and after a couple of minutes to remember it she then knew that section of Pi.

The other good thing about doing it in blocks of 5 is that I could then get her to remember the numerical position of the 20 blocks so she can be given a random number, up to 100, and she can (after a few seconds) tell you the corresponding digit of Pi. I thought that would be a better party trick than than reciting the 100 digits! Anyone can give her a number (e.g. 83), she can tell them the digit of pi that corresponds to and it can be quickly checked by asking our Amazon Echo! She just has to mentally jump to the 5-digit block that contains the 83rd digit and then extract the corresponding digit.

Anyway - that’s how we did it and it was quick so I’d recommend it. Just make the digits into a linked list that forms a story - you can embellish the story as much as you want to make it memorable so long as you know which the important words are. Break it up into a few stories to make it more manageable. Do it in regular chunks of 5 so that (with a bit more work) you can quickly name any digit of Pi (that you’ve memorised up to) rather than trying to impress by reciting a huge string of numbers to people!


There already is a good Major System mnemonic for the first 100 digits.

My turtle Poncho will, my love pick up my new mover ginger
My movie monkey plays in a favorite bucket.
Ship my puppy Michael to Sullivan’s backrubber.
A really open music video cheers Jenny F. Jones.
Have a baby fish knife so Marvin will marinate the goosechick.

Yep, about 96 digits into PI there’s a goosechick. Whodathunkit?


That’s a fascinating approach. I used the peg system and took my tile for the first 51 decimal places. I’d glance at the few digits I wanted to memorize - always letting the peg system to help determine the length, and after a few seconds I’d walk away. For the rest of the week I’d reinforce the sequences, and make sure to link them to the previous groups.

It was easy.

After a few months I decided to memorize pi to the hundredth, and on March 13th, I spent 20 minutes memorizing and reinforcing the sequence while laying in bed… yeah, I procrastinated.

It worked.


I don’t see why you shouldn’t get full credit for it just because you trained for it. The end result was you are smarter :slight_smile:


I have PI memorized with the mnemonic above. I got it from Art Benjamin.

I realize that what I have is a long chain and I don’t know how to find say, the 31st digit.

I should spend some time marking every tenth.

It would seem a Memory Palace would have been better but then you’d be forced to either use exactly 10 digits at each location or record a count there also.