New North American Record for Pi Recital

Thanks for the tip, climbformemory. The North American record of 15,314, which had stood for 13 years, was broken by math tutor Paul Hearding, who recited 16,106. It’s good for 15th on the World Pi Recital list.

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I am not trying to devalue this person, but 16.106 digits doesn’t seem many digits for an elite brain athlete. Am I right? Dissert.

It’s tougher than it seems. I think the hardest part is getting all those memory palaces made along with the constant review. If it were terribly easy the NA record would not have stood for 13 years. That being said, it’s eminently doable with the right person, the right techniques, and the right focus.

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This list doesn’t look complete, but it only has about 15 people who have memorized more than 16,000 digits.

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Apart from the months/years work of preparation, it’s also important to take into consideration how the recall is done for PI recitals. You basically have to recite PI decimals verbally for hours after hours (10+ hours if the quantity is large enough), and you’re not allowed to say something wrong even once. That’s extremely taxing and hard. I’d even find that hard even if I only had to read that out loud from a piece of paper (not during the first hour, but after 5-6 hours? Sure!).

To give an example, former World Memory Champion Jonas von Essen attempted to recite 100’000 decimal digits of PI this year (after almost 2 years of preparation, I think). He had an error fairly early, which ended up in him “only” getting 24’063 digits.

The bottom line: 16’000 digits is impressive. It’s certainly doable for many of the top memory athletes, but it’s far from an easy task even for them.

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Are you allowed to take a nap?