Which number system?

The only number system I know is the major system (Harry Lorayne’s version) where 1 = tie, 2 = Noah etc. Obviously you use consonant sounds to create images, so 1564 could be tall jar etc. I need to memorize a lot of historical dates and the problem that I am finding is that it takes me SO long to come up with the images via the major system. Sometimes I spend ten minutes thinking of a mnemonic for ONE date. It’s really slowing down my progress. I seem to go faster when I just use the set pegs words for the dates, rather than coming up with my own. But I can see how the images could become very repetitive eventually.

I have heard about the Dominic System and looked over it briefly, but I don’t fully understand it yet. Would it make a good alternative to the major system? Mostly I’m just looking to improve the speed of memorization from ten minutes to one or two. I’m not sure which system would make this more achievable.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Hello Nightingale,

The Dominic System operates by assigning a person to every number. To start, map a letter to every number from 0-9. Dominic O’Brien uses the following system:

0 – O 5 – E
1 – A 6 – S
2 – B 7 - G
3 – C 8 - H
4 – D 9 – N

When combined, the two letters form initials for a person. For example, 14 would translate to the initials AD, which might remind you of Albus Dumbledore (a fictional character from the ubiquitous media franchise Harry Potter). Alone, this system allows you to memorize 2 digit numbers. However, Dominic increases the power of the system by turning it into a cluster system; that is to say that it assigns a Person and an Action to every number. So an appropriate action for Albus Dumbledore might be one where he casting a spell and waving his wand. Another example might be for 16; this maps to AS, which might remind you of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold used to be a huge bodybuilder, and so you might imagine him lifting weights.

Thus, to remember the number 1416, you can imagine Albus Dumbledore (Person) lifting weights (Action). To make it even more powerful, you can use a Person-Action-Object system. This would work by assigning an Object to every Person, and you could remember up to 6 digits by simply using one image.

As with every system, there are upsides and there are downsides. One of the downsides is that your creativity goes right out the window. It is much harder to have your image interact with the loci in a significant way. Using the major system, you are free to form associations using various subjects, verbs and objects. Using the Dominic system, there is little room for such improvisation, with may lead to weaker, more superficial images.

Additionally, I would highly advise against using this system to memorize large amounts of historical dates. If you want to memorize something in the year 1416, you would have Albus Dumbledore lifting weights and interacting with various objects in such a manner that it would remind you of a something that occurred that year. However, if you wanted to memorize a date of an event in the year 1418, you would have Albus Dumbledore performing a hail Hitler salute (18 = AH --> Adolf Hitler - Hail Hitler salute for Person-Action) and interacting with whatever reminded you of the event. My point is that after several events within a single century, you’ll have one Subject performing multiple actions. This may be difficult to keep track of. After all, if you want to memorize an event for every year from 1400-1499, you will have Albus Dumbledore performing 100 different actions, which may prove far too similar to be memorable.

If you would like to stick with the Major system, but are having trouble finding words, there are several programs out there that take numbers and convert them into words. 2Know is a very simple and easy-to-use software program that will do just that:


Also, here is a list of the first 1000 numbers using the major system:


However, I would advise either creating your own system (personal systems almost always work the best - after all, you built it!) or using a SEM cubed method. More information can be found on the SEM cubed method here:


I haven’t gotten around to building a system for memorizing dates yet (still focused on speed cards), but when I do, I’ll be sure to let you know some of my ideas!


Sorry for the late reply - thank you very much for your post!

Dominic’s system sounds like a very interesting system and highly memorable (due to the fact that all the actions involve people!) but I can see how the images could become overly repetitive. I imagine if I had Dumbledore performing hundreds of different actions it would eventually become confusing (and confusion is the very thing I’m trying to avoid…)

I’ll stick with the major system, but I’m definitely going to make use of that program!

Coming up with my own images is fine when I have all the time in the world. But there are times when I could do with memorizing dates more quickly, so that looks perfect. I haven’t looked into the SEM cubed method, but I’ll definitely do some research and see if it seems appropriate! Would be great to hear your ideas when you get around to building a system!

A really easy way of memorizing dates is to just think of words that rhyme or sound like the digits. Not much of a system to it, but it works and doesn’t take much practice.

i just had a thought that u could just have albus dumbledore at the start of a journey then use the journey/ies to memorize the year in that century by just having arnold schwarzenegger doing his action on his own.just memorize the decade at the location.this is just to show the dominic system can be use to memorized date.but this may not always be practical as this may lead to later comfusion.

I exclusively use Dominic System for dates and I think it is actually a big advantage to have one person representing the century.

Thus I have journies for UK kings & queens, uk prime ministers and US presidents.

If I want the 19th century I just go to the Adolf Hitler section of each journey, so it actually helps bind all the knowledge together. After a while you just know that you are in the Adolf/19th century section and then you focus more on the action/object that relates to the particular year within that century.


thanks this is really helpful i might make a journey with centuries sections of certain topics.this would be extremely useful for people studying history.

I have a really handy tip that has helped me significantly in finding proper image associations for weird words.
** Use google
Open google.com and start typing the initial few letters of your word and you will see suggestions. Then pick out the suggestion which is most familiar to you and associate ^.^