Memorizing Pi – World Records and Techniques

How many digits of pi do you have memorized?

But seriously… is it 3? 5? 10? more than 30? If it’s more than 30 pat yourself on the back because that’s a great accomplishment! If it’s only a few, then no worries. Below we will teach you some techniques that can be used to conquer the digits of pi.


Computations of Pi

Some basic information and a brief time line on computations of the digits of pi:

  • 1540 – 1610: 35 digits determined
    • done by German mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen
    • used a geometric method (just like Archimedes did)
    • proud of his calculation that took a great part of his life
    • he had the digits engraved on his tombstone
  • 1949: 2, 037 digits computed (John von Neumann et al.)
  • 1973: Over one million digits computed
  • 1989: One billion digits computed (Chudnovsky brothers)
  • 2010: 2.7 trillion digits computed (F. Bellard)
  • In the near future: Almost all of them computed?

Who memorizes pi?


This is just a joke. It does bear a tiny bit of truth but the two sets of people aren’t mutually exclusive. I am both a scientist and a science fan!


Digits Memorized vs. Year (Graph)

500px-PiDigits.svg.png


Record Holders*: David Fiore
April 1st, 1979:
  • David Fiore wrote down 10,625 decimal places of pi
  • He was 18 years old at the time
  • He is known as the first person to ever break 10,000 decimal places
  • It took him three hours and five minutes

Record Holders*: Creighton Carvello (1944-2008)
June 27th, 1980:
  • Creighton Carvello recited 20,013 decimal places of pi
  • 2003: he recalled 3,500 facts about every FA Cup Final since 1872 (names of referees, goal scorers, teams, crowd attendances, scores, venues…)
  • Memorized the exact sequence of 10,000 words from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea
  • Recited 17 random digits after seeing them for 2 seconds

Record Holders*: Rajan Mahadevan
July 5, 1981:
  • Rajan Mahadevan recited 31,811 digits of pi
  • He discovered his exceptional ability to memorize numbers at the age of 4 during a party hosted by his family
  • During the party, Rajan wandered to a parking lot and committed the license plate numbers of every guest’s car for recitation later
  • A quote: “I am not good at remembering words – words confuse my system of memorizing. Numbers, I have no problems at all. I put away huge numbers in something similar to a computer file and I can recall them even after decades.”

Record Holders*: Hideaki Tomoyori
March 10th, 1987:
  • Hideaki Tomoyori recited 40,000 decimal places of pi
  • Took him 17 hours 21 minutes (including breaks totaling 4 hours 15 minutes) to recite
  • Took him 10 years to memorize 40,000 decimal places

Record Holders*: Chao Lu
November 20th, 2005:
  • Chao Lu recited 67,890 decimal places of pi
  • Took him 24 hours 4 minutes to recite (with no breaks)
  • Took him 1 year to memorize 100,000 digits (he made a mistake at the 67,891th digit when going for the record)
  • He is the current (official) record holder
  • In 2006, Akira Haraguchi, a retired Japanese engineer, claimed to have recited 100,000 decimal places. This, however, has yet to be verified by Guinness World Records.

Unofficial: Andriy Slyusarchuk
June 17th, 2009:
  • A. Slyusarchuk claims to have 30 million digits memorized
  • The digits are printed in 20 volumes of text
  • He is a neurosurgeon, medical doctor and professor
  • He was able to recite randomly selected sequences from within the first 30 million places of pi
  • Reciting 30 million digits of pi at one digit a second would take 347 days (nonstop)
  • No officially documented attempt to debunk his claims has been successful as of yet

Why memorize pi? To beat Grace!
May 12th, 2008:
  • Grace Hare recited 31 digits of pi
  • It took her 18 seconds
  • She is 3 years old and the youngest record holder

How to memorize pi? Piems!
A piem is a (pi) poem where the length of each word represents a digit of pi
For example, the following piem encodes the string: 3. 141592 65358 9793 23846

Pie
I wish I could determine pi
Eureka! cried the great inventor.
Christmas pudding, Christmas pie
Is the problem’s very center.

Notice that:
Pie = 3;
I = 1; wish = 4; I = 1; could = 5; determine = 9; pi = 2;
Eureka=6; cried=5; the=3; great=5; inventor=8;
and so on. Thus, each word represents a digit of pi.


My favourite piems!
There’s over a bazillion piems and variations (lots and lots). The best ones are:

May I have a large container of coffee right now?
3.141592653

Hey, I need a large motorboat to rescue women and girls.
3.1415926535

God! I need a drink,
Alcoholic of course,
After all those lectures
Involving radical equations.

3.1415 926 5358 979


Long Piems
  • The short story Cadaeic Cadenza encodes 3835 digits
  • It was written in 1996 by Mike Keith
  • Words of length 10 encode the digit 0
  • Words of length 11 (or 12) encode the two consecutive digits 1,1 (or 1,2)
  • 2010: In his book Not A Wake, Keith extends to 10,000 digits of pi

Technique: Grouping Digits
  • Split pi into small groups of digits (like 4 digits or 5, 6, 7, whatever you are comfortable with)
  • Focus on memorizing the first small group
  • Some people find singing it helps
  • When comfortable with the first group, move on to the next
  • Cons: If you lose your spot, you may have to start over.

Grouping Example: (3.14159) (26535) (8979323) (84626) (4338327) (95028) (8419716) (93993) (7510582) (09749) (4459230)

Start by memorizing (3.14159) for a minute… then add the next group (26535) and practice for two minutes. Then add the third group and practice until you are comfortable (REPEAT!!)


Classic Memory Techniques – The Major System
  • Major System: Convert numbers into sounds.
  • Sounds without numbers are used as ‘fillers’
  • Form words from the sounds
  • In practice, use 100 ‘peg words': rat is 41; bar is 94

Classic Memory Techniques – Link System
  1. Start by converting each digit of pi to its corresponding phonetic sound
  2. Group sounds together to create a list of words
  3. Words created should be actions or objects
  4. Alternatively, use your ‘fixed’ peg words for the number
  5. Use the Link System: Link words together into a long chain by using a sequence of events, a story, or a journey. The CRAZIER the story the BETTER!!

Example: 3.14 15 92 —> 14 = door; 15 = doll; 92 = pan;

You are standing at the biggest door you have every seen.
You knock at the door and this Raggedy Ann doll answers.
Out of nowhere, she smacks you with a pan she is holding!


Coordinate Method
  • Pros: Can recite starting at any decimal spot (if you lose your spot, you don’t have to start over)
  • First 10 decimal places (1415926535) associated with 0
  • Use the Major System to encode as: turtle-pinochle-mall and link it to 0 (saw)
  • Example: Picture yourself using a saw to cut open a turtle who is playing pinochle at the mall
  • Next 10 digits (8979323846) would be linked to 1 in the same manner
  • Next 10 digits linked to 2
  • Repeat.
* Reference for World Record Holders: Pi World Ranking List and Wikipedia
** Note: Some posts on Math-Fail are user-submitted and NOT verified by the admin of the site before publication. If you find this post to be distasteful, non-math related, ?or something worse?, then definitely leave a comment letting me know. Thanks very much! Mike **

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85 Comments.

  1. I believe this two-year-old is the youngest to memorize more than 30 digits of PI. (Note: the video in NOT submitted as proof. It is just one of many attempts to capture the feat on tape.)

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  2. Nice summary. I especially like the overview of methods. If you decide to use a grouping method, try using http://www.cow-pi.com/pi/digits to format your digits. -Ada

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  3. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. I know 26 digits.

    3.1415926535897932384626433

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    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • :grin: i memorised 120 digits in 2 days and im 12 :shock: :shock: :shock:

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      • you missed some in that. its 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209 you missed the 37510. Is there a middle school age competition because I’m twelve and want to enter one if there is.

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    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  5. Heh, I hold the record for the most digits of pi memorized at my middle school, Summit. I memorized 784 digits in 3 weeks. Took me 15 minutes to recite it all.

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  6. I love pi! I’m 13 years old and my best friend and I have memorized 81 digits in the last year. I can’t wait for pi day! 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899

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  7. I only memorized this many digits so far,with the short notice of the pi day competition at school. Hoping to memorize 10 digits a day, wish me luck! :grin: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944

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  8. Dakota Glassburn

    :shock: i know 110 of them :D took me less than a day to memorize
    3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651
    and im only 13 months old! hehe joking, im 15 years old :[

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  9. Jerrica Hanson

    My friend is 11 years old and she memorized 275 digits of pi in two days. She easily won the competition at school last year, and is looking forwrad to this year’s competition. :wink:

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  10. I know 601 digits of pi!
    3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111745028410270193852110555964462294895493038196442881097566593344612847564823378678316527120190914564856692346034861045432664821339360726024914127372458700660631558817488152092096282925409171536436789259036001133053054882046652138414695194151160943305727036575959195309218611738193261179310511854807446237996274956735188575272489122793818301194912983367336244065664308602139494639522473719070217986094370277053921717629317675238467481846766940513200056

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  11. :grin: lol i loooove pie but pi confuses me…..

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  12. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  13. this kid in my class is the world’s 47th person to memorize the MOST digits in our school , he won $314.15cents :shock:

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  14. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  16. I like PI i memorized 245 digits of pie no lie!

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  17. Hi,
    I’m 12 (13 in 2 days!) and I’ve learn’t the first 180 digits of pi in 2 weeks. I’ve only been doing it casually so could have done loads more. My current rate of learning digits is 20 digits in 10 minuates. Wish me luck as I go for 1000!

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  18. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  19. I wish every one trying to memorize pi luck, :razz:. :mrgreen:.

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  20. I memorized all of them, since I’ve created π

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  21. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  22. I take issue with your date of 1989 for the date when 1 billion places of pi were computed. I have the cover of the journal The Mathematical Intelligencer, vol. 7, no. 3, 1985. The issue contains an article by Columbia University researchers who describe an algorithm used to compute 1 billion places and print them out!

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  23. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  24. I know 190 digits without the piem..:P and I’m 16. -.-

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  25. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  26. Ada thinks the best ways is just repetition … your brain is all about saving the things you do often. That said, the ‘memory palace’ technique is pretty interesting as well.

    Moo!

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  27. I told myself I would start training for the 2013 pi day starting on New Years day of this year. I’m still a noob, I’ve got 59 digits thus far. 24 y/o & still nerdy! :mrgreen:

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  28. :mrgreen: epic…………………. i memorized 400 andi am 15…. cant wait for pi day!!!!!!!!

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  29. Have just bought an eBook called AS EASY AS PI from lulu.com that teaches you how to memorise pi. Much to my amazement, it really works, so after just a few reads, I can now recite pi to over 500 places. Amazing!

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  30. 3.14 :lol: :mrgreen:

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  31. Heyy my old account was XXmadestdogXX, I’m backk!! I now know 72 digits, I can’t wait for PI day, cos by then, I’ll should know thousands, please like
    P.S I love God!!

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  32. I don’t like memorising things by song or by piem, so what else is there :?:
    Ive memorised 37 :razz:

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  33. I have memorized 2000 digits of pi. My memorizing rate of pi is 300 digits per an hour. My arithmetic ability is 142 at mean 100 and SD 15(in the top 0.26% in Korea).

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  34. I am studying for A Pi Day competition at my school.
    It has been about 2 weeks and I know 186!
    I also am twelve.Yeah 6th Grade.

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  35. I know 710 digits of pi and im 11 no joke :shock: :razz:

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  36. i’m the second in palestine ,,,,,,,, i managed to memorise 2100 digits :)

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  37. I memorized this many: 3.14.

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  38. 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679 8214808651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111745028410270193852110555964462294895493038196
    4428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273
    724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609…

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  39. The11thPlinker

    3.141592653589793238462643383279502 Are the digits of pi I have memorized in the past 3 days I add on 11 every day I plan to memorize 5,000 i the next 2 years.

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  40. Herro my name is SRG Some Random Guy and i want to know what your favorite pi memorization tips are thanks!

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    • Hi, in 4th grade I had to write and memorise a speech, and I did this also with pi for pi day, you start from the beginning of what you want to memorize (digits for pi, words for speech), saying the first word/ digit out loud looking at it, then close your eyes and say it, then open your eyes and start from the beginning and go to the next one, and so on so forth until you finish/ decide it’s fine. When you’re done go to bed/ take a nap. When you wake up, you should pretty much have it down, but you might want to recite it once more, just to freshen up your memory. Hope this helps! :mrgreen: :wink:

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  41. :lol: u ppl r amazing!!! and my math class has a contest on pi day and last year i held the record at 62 and so far im now at 121!!! good luck all of u pi enthusiasts :razz:

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  42. i have learnt so much and counting. i cannot wait for pi day

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  43. lepong_the_1st

    :mrgreen: 12 years old. 30 digits-5min
    3.141592653589793238462643383279
    not bad isn’t it!

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  44. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  45. Ha I’m 14 go to fort payne middle school in fort payne alabama and I know 260 numbers past the decimal point ! Only takes me 6 minutes to. Recite if I’m not going fast : D btws I’m still memorizing! Tomoroows pi day so I’m in the competition cause I won last year……… no one hasbeen able to beat my reckrd

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  46. Pi= 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460955058223172535940812848111745028410270193852110555
    176 digits and counting! Oh, and I’m 12.

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  47. I know 233 pi digits and im 13 years old

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  48. It took me 2 class periods to memorize 60 numbers of pie 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494, I’m a 15 year old i used to 2 grouping together Technique just put two of them together and say them out loud a lot until you think you memorized it that how i did it

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  49. I memorized it to 60 digits past the decimal. Trying to find some pattern or trend. I started by remembering 27 digits. Just so happens that after the 27th digit, the next two numbers are 2 and 7. 27, then 9 (square root is 3; also 9/27 is 3). Finding some interesting things in the way I memorize. For example, many of the sets of numbers are mirrors of each other separated by one or two numbers, ie 59|2|65 mirror 6 and 9 bordered by 5; 46|2|64 mirrors separated by 2; end of the 27 digit sequence is 3383 and the end of the next 33 digits (notice the number 33) is 4944; 3383|4944 mirrors with numbers that are plus one ahead. Some other things I noticed but we’ll see. Fun to do when my hands are idle.

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  50. I recited 999 digits at my school on pi day 2013, but I’ve been working at it for a while. The first 500 is like a song, then I see the next 500 like it is on a piece of paper. Everyone brought pie and I ate about 5 pieces. Yum. I’m #2 in the World for 2013 so far that I know of. You young people are awesome and will pass me soon. Take care.

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  51. I know 30 digits of pi! i look stupid becuase of those people who can memorize more than 1000 no. of pi :sad: :grin:

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  52. i look stupid!i have only momorized 30 or so digits of pi!

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  53. I can eat 3165 pieces of pie. I can’t wait for pie day!

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  54. My classroom had a pi contest day and the school record was 80 i beat that when i got 100 digits of pi memorized and also my friend got 50 (kind of) :razz: :smile:

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  55. Im 12 and I know 170 digits

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  56. i know 250 decimal places of pi… :D im 16 ;)

    AUTISM ROCKS ;) it comes in handy for something at least! :D

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  57. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  58. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  59. Harman Khinda

    :shock: I am 13 and I memorized 1025 digits of pi on 2 weeks. I think I am the first American middle schooler to to so.

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  60. I only remember 22 digits and i felt smart.. Not anymore nope

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  61. I know 260 pi digits and it took me 30 min. to memorize 60pi digits.

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  62. This site should know that pi was proven to have infinite and nonrepeating digits. So the claim that in the near future “almost all of them will be computed” is ridiculous.

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  63. That’s not ridiculous… I know all of them. But regarding the ordering, I am still at 0% :smile:

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  64. After falling off of a ladder on my head onto frozen ground and getting a concussion, my memory was affected for about 18 months. I started memorizing pi as a type of theropy to try to get my memory back and in working order again. I memorized 500 digits in just a few days….but! After an extended period of not practicing, it seemed that just a little over 100 digits is all that stayed with me in my long term memory? What determines what goes into long term memory as apposed to short term? I memorized the 500 digits about 5 years ago, but all I can quote now is around 110 digits. I timed myself today and I can quote 80 in 10 seconds. I thought that was pretty good I guess… But I was wondering what most people can retain if not practiced on a regular basis? And I’m 54 years old if that makes a difference? And my pi theropy did work! I believe it helped me to be able to focus and concentrate and feel like my memory was finally back to normal! As I always said…. Nothing like a big slice of pi to make everything better! :wink:

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  65. i learned 100 digits in one day
    3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197158209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679

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  66. javascript:grin(‘:smile:’)Great Job! Amazing! I only know 71 (took me about 40 mins) I’m 11.javascript:grin(‘:roll:’)Not so good, I know.javascript:grin(‘:oops:’)

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  67. javascript:grin(‘:smile:’) Great Job! Amazing! I only know 71 (took me about 40 mins) I’m 11. javascript:grin(‘:roll:’)Not so good, I know. javascript:grin(‘:oops:’)

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  68. I memorized 147 digits in one day and am at 228+. Last year I didn’t know what pi was, but now I am writing a ten page essay on it, and have an OBSESSION with it :lol:

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  69. I have 200 digits memorized. Congrats to the younger people who have many 100s memorized, that’s quite a feat! I’m 32 an not so young anymore…

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  70. I got had learned 50 decimal places by the time I was about 8 or 9 but I’ve truffled to do any more than that (I’m 13 now). I might have a go at 50 places of e! :wink:

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  71. I know about 70 and I am only 11. 3.14159265358979323… :lol: :mrgreen:

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