Today I would like to write about something very interesting to you folks.

It’s a common remember / recall technique called the Method of loci. Otherwise known as the Memory Palace. A very popular usage can be seen in the episodes of Sherlock Holmes from BBC. He uses it often.

What is the Method of loci?

As the Wikipedia page write so properly.“In basic terms, it is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualization to organize and recall information.”

This says all.


How does it work?

I don’t want to go too much into details with this one since everybody can use Google I’m assuming but just for my sanities sake I will repeat a very basic idea. You brain works with associations. It can remember something when it’s linked to something you already know much much better. Also it can remember very easily places you’ve been to or people you’ve met. ( most of the time. ).

Very popular Roman Leaders where known to use this while they were giving speeches for hours out of memory. While they were speaking, mentally they were walking along a very well known and often used path where they linked key elements of their speeches to landmarks along the way.

Enough. Show me concretes.

So how do I make use of it you ask? I give you an example. In my flat there are two stairs. I use those stairs to initialize my Palace. I go up the two stairs to get myself into my Memory. Once I’m in my Palace, which is my flat, I have a lot of holder items like drawer, desk, wall, painting, couch and many many more.

So for example to recall all of the 23 design patterns in order I use a mnemonic and my palace.

I have three drawers. I go up up. there is my drawer before me. I open the first and out comes the following sight.

Memento and Mediator are playing a game of Chess ( strategy ). There is a Visitor standing by who is Observing ( Observer ) the game. State is constantly recording the state of the game while Template is providing support and Iterator is counting rounds. Command is constantly yelling orders that they should hurry up because he has better things to do while wielding a huge broad sword ( Interpreter -> for me this pattern was used in MUD games which were early RPGs ). The whole gang is held together by a Chain which is responsible for not letting things go out of hand.

I know this sounds very complicated. And the order? Where is that? That’s the mnemonic: CCIIMMOSSTV. Easy, right?

So why this huge story around a few patterns? Because it’s not just these. Then along comes ABCDFFP which is Adapter, Bridge, Composite, Decorator, Facade, Flyweight and Proxy and the rest BFFPS which is Builder, Factory, Abstract Factory, Prototype and Singleton.

I have stories around those as well. This makes it easy to remember them.

For small amount of things it would be an overkill yes. But for many things it makes it EASY!

You already remembered my Chess play story. 😉

But how do you remember a complex story?

Recall. You don’t just put stuff in there and then move on. I have a routine. Every day when I go to bed before I fall asleep I walk around in my Palace. I look at things, recall them strengthen the memory a bit here and there. And after an Item has been retained in my long term memory strong enough, I can recall it fewer and fewer times. So I don’t have to walk in the whole palace every time. Only parts.


**Q:**But isn’t this too slow to recall something?

**A:**This is only a tool to retain information more easily. Of course if you want to recall something at a moments notice, you won’t have the time to go into your palace and search around. But after a while it will strengthen and will be more and more easier to recall information faster and faster. And you rarely get into a position where you need to recall something in a second.

**Q:**This seems like a major overhead to learn something.

**A:**For small amount of information I suggest using a mnemonic or flash cards rather then a palace.

**Q:**What if I run out of space?

**A:**You can create as many locations as you like. Use your current home and homes in your past which you knew very well. You could create a lane with houses after each other. Or create a fictional palace like Hogwarts based on some real places to retain them better. And draw a sketch of of it to be able to visualize it better.

**Q:**What if I forget where I put things?

**A:**Recall recall recall is the name of the game. In order to stabilize the vision of your palace you need to practice walking around in it. Remembering each and every small room. With practice it will get better and better and every information will be stored much easier.

**Q:**How do you put thing into it? Can I just put in a number and I will remember it forever?

**A:**Short answer: no. Long answer: You don’t just imagine a place and then put a whole bunch of words into a pocket somewhere and expect it to be recalled better. You need to combine the Loci with mnemonics and imagination and sounds and smells stories images. The more powerful the image in a place the better the recall. As you saw with the design patterns I didn’t just put a bunch of names into a box and then remembered it. I created a story around them and a mnemonic. The combination is the key.

**Q:**Are you physically walking your house or in your mind?

**A:**In my mind. Once I learned something and created my story and found the appropriate image or smell or sound I’d like to use I close my eyes and go into my palace in my mind. Then I start to place things where I think they will be in a good place. This can be any number of things. It’s up to you.

So that’s all folks. Hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to try it out and experiment I assure you you won’t be disappointed.

As always,

Thanks for reading.