PAO or major system

Being around for a while I saw something weird. I’ve read the book “Moonwalking with Einstein” two times. In the book, author said:

This was the one event where Ed’s coaching had given me little advantage—because I had largely ignored Ed’s coaching. He had been prodding me for months to develop a more complicated system for numbers—not quite the “64-gun Man of War” Millennium PAO system he had spent months working on, but something at least a step ahead of the simple Major System that most of the other Americans would be using.


Though I’d been operating with inferior mnemonotechnics in the numbersevent, when it came to speed cards, the next challenge, I was the only competitor armed with what Ed referred to as “the latest European weaponry.” Most of the Americans were still placing a single card in each locus, and even the guys who’d been competing for years, …

In his website, Alex Mullen said:

Since mid-2014, I have used a 3-digit system (one unique image for each 3-digit combo from 000-999) based on the Major System phonetic code, shown below. My system is approximately ⅓ people and ⅔ objects. I place two of these 3-digit images per locus.In my first year of training, I used a 2-digit Person-Action-Object (PAO) system.

And Lance Tschirhart in his description of Shadow System said:

So please, now, when you are in a position where it is appropriate, just call the Shadow System by name, or call it “Part 1 of the Shadow System,” and share the link so you can do your part to help raise the bar in this sport if you believe in its efficacy, rather than letting some poor fellow who is on the fence continue on with their PAO.

Joshua Foer highly encourages PAO, but Alex and Lance… I don’t think so. Why is it like that?!
Alex used PAO but moved on major system! As I see around, those who use major system (modified version) are trying to build a list of numbers with their corresponding image (and it seems they have a hard time for doing that). Isn’t it PAO just with one, let’s say, thing (I mean in PAO each number has a corresponding person action, and object, but those people use just one corresponding thing)?! With a three-digit PAO you can place three three-digit numbers in one lucas. Please help me understand!

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It’s not about the system for numbers. In fact, Wang Feng had other champions’ records using a three-digit system using only 100 Major Systems.
As for Millennium PAO, it is too difficult to learn and use.

The reason why so many athletes have switched to the 3-digit system is the Tshcirhart Shadow System.

This is a two-card system for memorizing a deck of cards, which consists of 1352 images. Many athletes who have shown exceptional results in memorizing cards take advantage of this.

Athletes with the Shadow System really show outstanding results. Although the world record is held up by an athlete who uses PAO.

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There’s a related thread here: The Death of PAO?

I don’t think that PAO is dead, but started that thread in 2015 after hearing someone mention that phrase at a memory competition. Since then, PAO has shown good results. Like AttiLa-24 mentioned, the current speed cards record is held by someone who uses PAO: Speed Cards World Record 12.74 seconds - Shijir-Erdene Bat-Enkh

There’s also a eight-digit 3-2-3 PAO system for numbers that fixed the most difficult part of a 3-digit PAO system (which is trying to find 1,000 distinct, memorable actions). 3-2-3 PAO looks like it requires 2,100 images for numbers though. A 3-digit system only requires 1,000 images for numbers. You can still put two or three images in each location with a 3-digit system.

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By the way, I would like to try PAO 3-2-3. But I am currently using my PAO for university studies and it will be uncomfortable for me to forget my 00-99 system.

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