Chunking is not a simple skill to master. One exercise to learn chunking is number pyramid. The game is a bit hard to understand, so I will explain it slowly.

We generate the number pyramid by writing random digits. These digits are then summed pair-wise. See e.g. this page. As a result, we get a pyramid with the sum of all of our digits at the top of the pyramid. We will provide a dedicated game on this site eventually, or you can ask some 10-years-old to create a pyramid for you using pen and paper as an exercise. At the beginner level we use 4 digits, and at the expert level, we use 20 digits or more. The creation part is easy. The memorization is more interesting.

The sum of all of our digits is up to 3 digits long, we can memorize it any way we like. At the next line, we have 2 numbers, then 3 and so on. It is hard to memorize 20 digits fast without some strategy. If we have an infinite amount of time we could use pegs and generate a story, but we want to memorize these numbers quickly. Below are some specific strategies, which are also mentioned in my ADVANCED MEMORIZATION SYSTEMS AND MEMORY SPORTS post.

The recommended beginner-level method is pegs with 2×2 chunking. We memorize a table of pegs for 10 digits. Then we chunk the images for the digits we need to remember into 2×2 tables, trying to visualize the whole thing. We memorize these 2×2 tables as slides in a slideshow. Adding colors to each “slide” and trying to find some story for each 2×2 table help to remember the content. With this method, you can easily ace up to 20 digits as 5 slides of 2×2 tables.

The recommended master-level method to handle the task is a combination of PAO and memory palace (Vaughn cube). Learn PAO well enough to memorize 6 digits at once. Practice a bit. Now you are ready to memorize digits. For the first rows, you will have 3-digit numbers. Group them in pairs (6 digits each pair) and color them red. For the middle rows, you will have 2-digit numbers. You should remember triplets (6 digits each triplet) and color them yellow. For the bottom row,you will have single digit numbers. You can remember 6 of those in a chunk, color them red. Now for each 6-digits chunk create a PAO figure in the relevant color and put them in the Vaughn cube: use the ceiling, 4 walls, 4 corners, and the floor of the room you are in. Since the Vaughn method is somewhat proprietary I cite directly from “How to Remember Anything: The Proven Total Memory Retention System” By Dean Vaughn: “Start with 0 on the ceiling, then the back left corner (location 1), the left wall (location 2) and continue around the room ending with the floor (location 9). Place the PAO objects with the proper colors at the proper locations of the Vaughn cube. If you want to remember multiple pyramids at once, you can use several rooms of your mental palace using the Vaughn cube method.

Number pyramid is a good exercise to memorize numbers. If you are an analyst or accountant, you may find this skill very useful. Start with beginner-level method until you can easily memorize 20 digits. The beginner level training is relatively short. The master-level methods required a long learning curve, but the results are magical.

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