Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible

9Jan/130

A new approach to mental math

I received an email from Anton Prosolov, a programmer from Norway. His site, King of Mnemonics, sells software that Anton developed, and a novel he wrote.

I have invented a brand new approach to mental math that focuses on something people are good at (which is memory) rather than something they're bad at (which is arithmetics).

For the first time in history, ANY person can now learn how to perform truly amazing calculations in his/her head - things like weekdays, cubic roots and square roots...

Anton asked for me to plug his work. I like what he's doing (although I've not used his software or read his novel.) So, I offered him a plug but I made him work for it. I emailed him some questions about what he's up to. Below are Anton's responses. Enjoy!

You have a fascination with Pythagoras. Why is that? And, who were the Pythagoreans?

The Pythagoreans were a mathematical / religious cult in ancient Greece. This combination of mathematics and the supernatural is a perfect fit for me, since I needed a reason WHY people would want to learn my Algorithms. The reason is of course to gain immense power and knowledge in a different dimension called the Other Side (that's what my novel is about).

So, there was a dark side to the Pythagoreans?

Yes. My novel depicts several true historic occurrences, and one of them is the murder of their fellow Pythagorean Hippasus due to his discovery of irrational numbers. Like I said, they were sort of a cult. Of course, since this is a fictional novel, I made them even MORE sinister than they actually were.

What was Pythagoras famous for, other than for the Pythagorean Theorem?

He was one of the earliest famous cult leaders, with lots of capricious rules and prohibitions.

What is your novel about?

My novel is about the struggles of the (evil) Pythagoreans to gain access to an other dimension called the Other Side (with the help of my 5 magic Algorithms). Fortunately, their efforts are being sabotaged by mysterious self-fulfilling Prophecies.

Your software helps people to learn and practice several techniques that use mnemonics, right?

That's correct!

What is a mnemonic and how do mnemonics help with things like difficult multiplications and date calculations?

Well, Wikipedia defines a mnemonic as a "learning technique that aids information retention". I do have some genuine mnemonics, such as this poem that is actually the multiplication table (it's used in the Absolute Power Algorithm):

fact dense fogs warm suns defy
ares ably reign fierce aides rely
roger swam duct rescue nora
lug's bergs saved beside aura

wergem oiner bown webnew
beldi wolm nelect wifew
fewgwe siwo lesta biol

However, for the most part, you have to memorize several tables in order to do my Algorithms (12 tables in total). This is (technically speaking) NOT a mnemonic. Nevertheless, it's something that involves memory (rather than arithmetics), which is why "King of Mnemonics" is still a fitting name for my software. By the way, utilizing long-term memory (which people are good at) rather than arithmetics (which people are bad at) is precisely the reason why ANYONE can do my Algorithms. This is a brand new approach (invented by me) and the only one that works for ordinary people (I know, because my wife and friends can now calculate weekdays, square and cubic roots in their head because of King of Mnemonics).

What does the "Absolute Power Algorithm" calculate?

You can calculate things like 794 * 586 in your head (two 3-digit numbers where all digits are different). However, this is the most difficult Algorithm of the 5 and I do NOT claim that anyone can do it (in fact, my novel is called "Are you the reincarnation of Pythagoras ?", and he or she is the only person in the world (besides the evil Pythagorean Grand Master) who can do the Absolute Power Algorithm quickly enough (under 1 minute). That person is the world's only hope, because it's the most important Algorithm on the Other Side.

Is there a next project for you?

I have some ideas for other Algorithms (not necessarily mathematical), but you won't see them for a while, since I have to do them in my spare time, and it took me 10 years to finish my currect project. It would speed things up a lot if I could do this full-time, which is my dream.

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