Why PAO is the best system out there

PAO is the best system. Many people who are fans or users of a 3 digit system may disagree but here is my argument. PAO is more effective then all other methods for numbers and cards. It is
A.Easy to learn
B.Easy to master
C. Has better results than a 3 digit system

Here are the best results with PAO:
Discipline Record Competitor Championship Spoken Numbers (1 second) 432 digits Tsogbadrakh SAIKHANBAYAR GMM Taiwan Open Adult 2015

Binary Digits (5 min) 1688 digits Tenuun TAMIR Mongolia 2020

Historic/Future Dates (5 min) 136 dates Enkhshur NARMANDAKH IMM IGM Mongolia 2020

Speed Numbers (5 min) 572 digits Munkhshur NARMANDAKH IMM IGM WMC 2019 2015

Speed Cards (5 min) 12.74 seconds Shijir-erdene Bat-enkh (@shijir-erdene)
2nd Korea OPEN Champs 2018

550 (10.58 decks) ANDREA MUZII Italy French Open Memory Championship 2019

1300 MUNKHSHUR NARMANDAKH Mongolia Mongolian National Memory Championship 2019

1202 (23.12 decks) ANDREA MUZII Italy European Open Memory Championship 2019

30 minute numbers MUNKHSHUR NARMANDAKH Mongolia 1812 Asia Open Memory Championship 2017

Long Cards (1 Hour) 2141 cards Munkhshur NARMANDAKH IMM IGM WMC 2019

Long Numbers (1 hour) 3818 digits Munkhshur NARMANDAKH IMM IGM WMC 2019

Most of these scores besides 2 or three are world records (based on both IAM and WMSC standards and most are far better than the 2 cards 3 digit records for example in hour numbers the best with 3 digit is 3238 by Alex Mullen)

Some may argue
With a 3 digit system you also have to train hard to get to a high level but you also have to take a lot of time to get used to the systems many images which takes time as well.
Both systems require a commitment (I believe PAO to have less of one) but in the end I believe it is a better system.


I would like to give :+1:t2: , but it might seem to be arrogant to other system users.
Anyway, I like the content.

Im quite curious. I did enjoy starting with PAO recently. It felt very logical in creating my images, you have a story automatically build in. But i did grow the desire to make a 1352 Major list based on the shadow system. So i started coming up with words for that. I do not have an update which one is more effective since i haven’t trained my PAO to the fullest. But hearing Mullen say that it feels like cheating compared to the PAO, it got me quite excited (not quoting, but though he said something like that to Nelson Dellis).

And i do think its good to look at how much effort people put in practice. which could mean that PAO with a lot of practice might get you to the top. But maybe a 3 digit system with the same practice might oblitarate the PAO? Any findings on that? Because your argument on these cases are compelling, but that was the same reason i started looking into 3 digit system, because some of the top where doing that and possibly with less effort???


There are many strong mnemonists with a 3 digit system but overall I would say that PAO has better results in both numbers and cards. I mean look at Andrea Muzii’s cards scores and the Mongolians numbers and binary (they all use PAO) they are better than 2 block/3 digit

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‘Many world class results were achieved with PAO → PAO is the system that is best suited for memory sports.’

That’s the same implication as

‘Many world class results were achieved by Mongolians → Mongolians are the people that are best suited for memory sports.’

A valid argument? I’m not sure :slight_smile:


Andrea Muzii uses PAO too. Andi Bell 3x World Memory Champion used it and was from England he used to hold the speed cards record of 31.81 seconds. Abraham Saynes of Mexico has also gotten very strong scores using PAO. I do not think it is only Mongolians :wink: .

Jonas von Essen

Jonas von Essen is the 2013 World Memory Champion.[https://blog.artofmemory.com/2013-world-memory-championships-results-5387.html 2013 World Memory Championships Results] He uses a 2-digit [[Person-Action-Object (PAO) System|PAO system]].[Jonas von Essen - 2013 World Memory Champion | Memory Training Experts Jonas von Essen – World Memory Champion]

== References ==

From the art of memory wiki
He held the spoken numbers record of 380 for a bit

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I agree with Finwing, it’s not the best argument. I understand where the comment comes from. It feels a bit like a desire to confirm your own practice. At least thats what i tend to do. a bit of a confirmation bias. (not trying to put you down, because you might as well be right).

I just think in theory (not an athlete yet) that containing less images per loci is less demanding for the brain and therefore possibly more succesful…


It depends on the context as well… you’re only talking about the standard memory disciplines above. Consider mental math though… in my PAO the O is “the square” of the P:


Person: Kylie Minogue (based on major system)
Action: [not important for my point]
Object: LeMoN (based on major system) \to 532

If I need the square of 73, I just look for the Object, and I get 532_ and complete this to 5,329 by squaring the unit digit of 73 for 3^2=9 and append it to the Object for 73.

My entire PAO system follows that logic, so I always have the squares for 00 to 99 without calculating; rather I just look at the Object for that particular number in my PAO system. However, this system would not work if the object weren’t based on a 3-digit major system code.

I’d say that is a much better way to argue the usefulness of a PAO system,… rather than saying… at lot of top performers use PAO.


totally different perspective, but i like it. you have more info on that somewhere?

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@Mathmaster Thanks for the interesting examples :slight_smile:

Actually I don’t know if PAO is the best system for memory sports or not. I’m just making you aware that your argumentation is flawed. (Hope that’s okay.) You are implying a causation here, but it can as well be a correlation. Or in other words: Did those competitors perform so well because they used PAO, or despite they all used it? We don’t know.

Aside from that, brains are different. A system that is perfect for one person can be disadvantageous for another one, and vice versa.


Maybe you could be a bit more specific…

…I also put the entire system into a set of seven mini memory palaces so that I don’t have to calculate the year codes for calendar calculation. You know, that discipline in mental math that asks you for the weekday of a specific date…

…that isn’t really to do with PAO though. But maybe that’s not what you’re asking, so if you could just clarify for me what it is that I can point you to.

Absolutely, saying PAO is the best system is such an absolute… it’s like saying X is the easiest language to learn or Y is the hardest language to learn. It really depends on the other languages you already speak. Similarly, if you don’t do any mental arithmetic then using the square of the P for the O in your PAO is not gonna get you anywhere really… so as always, it all depends. :wink:




Any people know if the Shadow system is still popular? i watched some videos from Mullen and it made me quite excited. The only downside i see is that with cards you lose the context right? SO i couldnt say the 21st card is jack of spades. while with PAO i could. This would be valuable info for me as a magician…

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I would say that PAO is an advantage in this application because it would be easier to retrieve the specific location of each card. Alex Mullen and Lance Tschirhart had and have great success with the shadow system and have gotten to very high speeds but their system has cost both of them potential US memory championships because they have more difficulty with verbal recall or recalling specific cards.

Ah i did not know that. I just looked at spme records and saw that tjey were mich higher than Dellis for example. But i just compared record stats… good to know

PAO should create a routine for the mind to follow, thus (assuredly) making memorization easier. My question is why PAO and not POA, probably because intermediate action adds dynamics in the middle, thus making recall easier (assuredly person - object - action is less dynamic).

see here: POA instead of PAO?

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I understand that people like PAO
I have try both PAO but I not really like that because I think major system and three numbers system is more creative and arouses my imagination better

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That is a fine alternative argument. However, everyone has their own opinion, there really is no “best” system. Only the best for an individual.


Yes but is PAO really more effectivae? Or can other system works as good?

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