is copyright Michael Curtis 2010-2023. All Rights Reserved.

10k Memory Palace


A memory system tends to have a set of images for representing the things which you want to remember; but also a set of images to act as an indexed list of places at which that first set of images is imagined. In that way, by visiting the imaginary places in sequence, your facts are recalled in sequence. That is true, broadly speaking.

I have designed a lot of location systems (also known as loci or peg systems or 'memory palace') and retired several of them because I keep thinking of something which I think would work better.

This article is about a really credible way of having 10000 unique enough indexed places: a vast memory palace.

The time investment is mainly to learn:

500 indexed landscapes and to learn 500 indexed 'middle distance' objects in order

50 props for the memory places which are inside rooms rather than outside.

There are sky colours and floor types and other things to learn but there are few of those.

This started off as a plan to derive 10,000 outdoor scenes. For variety, I wanted to find 200 grass landscapes, 200 sand landscapes, etc.; but it was hard to find that many distinct landscapes; so, I decided that there would be 100 grass landscapes, 100 sand landscapes, etc. and that, in total, there would be 5000 outdoor scenes.

The other 5,000 places can be indoors: rooms built based on an index system.

I am about to explain some maths that decides details of each of the outdoor 5,000 peg system places (loci); but the intention is that the student learns a scene and does not use maths at all. The maths helps to make variety to some extent between the different scenes.

Place 2763 is an example of the basic idea: 2 7 6 3 as digit A, digit B, digit C and digit D.

The 276 of 2763 is the 000-499 location which you would just have to know: 100 landscapes of grass, 100 of sand, 100 of rock, 100 of water, 100 of snow. They would be vast landscape images with an obvious space in the middle distance for where the additional 'middle distance' item will be added. Together, that is one of the 5,000 places: location 2763. Locations 000 to 4999 are the exterior scenes. The rooms will use 5000 to 9999.

For exterior scenes, I also want the landscape to be solid ground in the foreground even if the main landscape is using the theme of 'water'. Otherwise, the 1000 actions article would be hard to apply to some of the loci scenes.

So the 276 is the ABC of the ABCD that is 2763.

The C and D aligned are CD. So, CD is 63 (the 6 and the 3 of the four digit number). I subtract the constant 50 if it is a number 50 or more. Then I look up the result in the topics list: categories 0 to 49. So the 'middle distance' item will be topic (do maths: 63-50 = 13) 13.

Any one of those categories will have a list of 10 images. Eg. 'Castle' category would have an indexed list of 10 castle images - a lot like clip art: capable of being colour-filled in a two tone way - where the secondary colour is black.

How do we know which of that list from 0 to 9 [10 items] to use? Use the remainder of dividing the sum of A + B + C by 10: 2 + 7 + 6 = 15; so the remainder is 5; so the 0-9 list's item 5 will be the 'middle ground' image [eg. the topic of 'Castle' would have the castle 8 image used].

Use the B and D number (7 and 3), add them and determine the sky colour by dividing that number by 10 and looking at the remainder:

The usual 0 to 9 of the colour chart was largely inspired by hair colours; so I think it is best to have a different 0 to 9 colour scheme for skies with sky colours:

The middle distance item's main fill colour is based on adding A+B+C+D and dividing by 10. A+B+C+D is 8+7+6+3 = 24. The remainder after being divided by 10 is 2. So use colour 2 from the colour chart of the Colours article.

The 50 categories are partly based on fantasy and sci-fi art themes. Finding 10 distinct images might be challenging;and I am open to having miscellaneous theme images included if it helps a list to reach a count of 10.

The 50 categories list is:

Number Specific Item in the Distance
0 Arabic style building
1 Bridge
2 Camp of tents, Canopy building
3 Castle
4 Church / Cathedral
5 Citadel / Wooden fortress
6 Clock tower / Bell tower
7 Dinosaur / Dragon / Monster
8 Farm / Barn / Hay
9 Military machinery (old technology)
10 Mound, Cave entrance
11 Robot
12 Ruin
13 Sci-Fi Vehicles (non-spaceship)
14 Small settlement
15 Spaceship
16 Temple
17 Thatched cottage
18 Tower (not a bell tower nor a clock tower)
19 Tree / Bush / Copse / Orchard
20 Wagon, Wild West
21 Wall / Gate
22 Well / Water tower
23 Windmill
24 Wooden hut / Shack

Number Specific Item in the Distance
25 Musical instruments (old)
26 Birds
27 Insects
28 Minerals and jewels
29 Props List 1*
30 Props List 2*
31 Props List 3*
32 Props List 4
33 Props List 5
34 Fruit
35 Vegetables
36 Flowers
37 Real Mammals
38 Boats (of old)
39 Sea creatures – non-fish
40 Mythology – set 0
41 Mythology – set 1
42 Mythology – set 2
43 Mythology – set 3
44 Mythology – set 4
45 Mythology – set 5
46 Mythology – set 6
47 Mythology – set 7
48 Mythology – set 8
49 Mythology – set 9

The props lists' specific items are:

Props List 1:



A crown on a plinth

Lantern in bracket

Tall candelabra




Small round table with a pitcher of a beverage.

Square table with a jug on it

Props List 2:

6 types of door

Moose head

Suit of armour



Props List 3:



Flowers in a pot on a square stand.

Types of statue or sculpture on plinth.

Bowl of fruit on a hexagonal table

Pot plant leafy

Pot plant pine

Bottle display unit



Props List 4:

6 types of window


Shelf of plates and cups

A wash basin

A wooden bench

Props List 5:

2 types of Curtain

A throne

A tapestry

A cabinet

A chest of drawers

A coat rack with wide brim hat on it

A broom

A goblet on a square table

Table cloth table with a candle

The 5,000 memory places could have names. I am considering using the AB of ABCD to choose name from the 'People from 00 to 99' article.

The C and D of ABCD tell me which of the 50 topics the place relates to; so I can use that as the second part of the name. The A of ABCD is also a clue as to the environment: Snow, Water, etc.. I hope that giving each place a name will make it more memorable.

A topic will occur more than once per 100 places. So a name like Joe's Wagon would describe 2 places with the same title. So a third word could be part of the name: something specific to the ABC backdrop. Eg. Joe's Wagon Hill, Joe's Wagon Pond.


As I said earlier, 10,000 exterior scenes looked too challenging and so I had a think about what a 5000 rooms system would be like. The 'A' digit of ABCD would be from 5 to 9. So the numbers covered by the rooms would be 5,000 to 9,999: scenes like you might see in a computer adventure game when you explore a building. The central focal feature of each room would still use the same 50 categories times 10 specific examples; and still use a maths to colour fill that object. However, room generation, when formulaic, leads to very similar rooms. Maybe I could introduce a random number by using digits of pi: a random element would make similar rooms have extra features which make the rooms more distinct. But I am going to see if maths makes enough variety, instead.

The CD of the ABCD number, once again, is used to determine the topic out of the 50 topics mentioned in the Exterior scene paragraphs above. That includes subtracting 50 if the number is 50 or higher. Use the remainder of dividing A+B by 10 to determine which subvariety of that topic will be the specific image.

The fill colour for that image is based on adding A+B+C+D and dividing by 10 and then using the remainder: a number from 0 to 9 (with 10 then added to it so that a different colour palette from the Colours article is used [in contrast to the Exteriors 5k system]).

The specific image is visualised to be near or at the far wall: at the wall if it is a door or window or curtain but a little away from the wall if it is stand-alone.

How can the rooms have variety? The A of the ABCD number decides the far wall shape: the far wall need not be a rectangle frame.

There will be a side prop in the room: at the far wall, either to the left or to the right. This is hard to do because if there are too few props, they get re-used in so many rooms that rooms are not distinctive. I aim to use 100 side prop images composed of two examples of 50 types of prop.

The wall texture of the room will be one of 5 choices: white wall, light colour stone, Tudor beam at a yellow wall, red brick, grey stone. The 'B' digit of ABCD divided by 5 has a remainder which decides which wall type to use. If the 'B' digit is less than 5 then that decides that the side prop of the far wall will be on the left rather than on the right.

The remainder of adding A + B + C and dividing by 10 decides the type of floor:

Black marble slabs

Orange sand.

Yellow straw

Green diagonal tiles

Magenta pebbles

Blue pentagonal tiles

Left to right brown floor boards

Pink concrete

Light Grey Stone

Red square Tiles

(The colouring is based on colours 0 to 9 of the Colours article. That same floor colour is applied to the colour of the far wall.)

My experience with previous systems, where looping lists of graphics combine to make one scene, is that, unless there is real variety in a specific looping list of items, the combinations become samey. Also, if there are several features in the scene then it is hard to visualise it as one entire scene.


So now, I am thinking about applying the 500 two-tone middle distance items to a different article; I am thinking that I could remake the 1000 loci system from an earlier article: the one where 50 side items represent numbers: the Bloke Town article. Besides, it is good to double-check my old work; and starting over would be beneficial. I would use the 500 items twice so that place 0 is the same image as place 500; and place 1 is the same image as place 501: a 500 offset. What would distinguish them is that the background of 0-499 would be white but the background of 500 to 999 would be black. Also, the two fill colours of the twin-tone images would be colours from the Colours article which spell letters. So the place representing Tonga would use a main fill colour for 'T' and a secondary fill colour for 'O'.

And any other complexity would be removed - apart from the left side / right side use of the set of 50 objects: a way to encrypt numbers such as longitude, latitude, etc..

Hash Table Article Effect

Note: I wrote this 10k Memory Palace article after I made the Hash Tables article; maybe a street address would resolve to a 10k location rather than to a 5k person.