A View from the Back of the Envelope top

Simplifying with
memorable numbers
How to simplify a number

Substitute a nearby number you can remember.

One way to simplify a number is to find a nearby one which is easier to remember.

For example, 218 might be more easily remembered as 222, or as 210, or as 200
(which have approximation errors of +2%, -4% and -8%).

For example, Earth's radius can be remembered as "Six ee Six meters"
(6 × 106 m, aka 6E6, which is only 6% below the real 6.4 × 106 m).

Different people find different things easy to remember. You just try on possibilities until you find one which is both easy enough and close enough. It usually takes a couple of tries, and sometimes it doesn't work.

Finding numbers you can remember is important when you are creating your own landmarks.


I would like a name for this `simplifying by finding nearby and memorable numbers'. One possibility is "bending", as in "bent to fit". Any other ideas?

A View from the Back of the Envelope
Comments encouraged. - Mitchell N Charity <mcharity@lcs.mit.edu>)

In need of overhaul, integration with landmarks.