A Self-Referential Story, by Michael Keith.
For a time I
stood pondering on circle
sizes. The large computer
mainframe quietly processed all of its
assembly code. Inside my entire hope lay for
figuring out an elusive expansion. Value: pi.
Decimals expected soon. I nervously entered a format
procedure. The mainframe processed the request. Error.
I, again entering it, carefully retyped. This iteration gave
zero error printouts in all - success. Intently I waited.
Soon, roused by thoughts within me, appeared narrative mnemonics
relating digits to verbiage! The idea appeared to exist but only
in abbreviated fashion - little phrases typically. Pressing on I
then resolved, deciding firmly about a sum of decimals to use - likely
around four hundred, presuming the computer code soon halted!
Pondering these ideas, words appealed to me. But a problem of zeros did
exist. Pondering more, solution subsequently appeared. Zero suggests a
punctuation element. Very novel! My thoughts were culminated. No,
periods, I concluded. All residual marks of punctuation - zeros. First
digit expansion answer then came before me. On examining some problems
unhappily arose. That imbecilic bug! The printout I possessed showed four
nine as foremost decimals. Manifestly troubling. Totally every number
looked wrong. Repairing the bug took much effort. A pi mnemonic with
letters truly seemed good. Counting of all the letters probably should
suffice. Reaching for a record would be helpful. Consequently, I
continued, expecting a good final answer from computer. First number
slowly displayed on the flat screen - 3. Good. Trailing digits
apparently were right also. Now my memory scheme must probably be
implementable. The technique was chosen, elegant in scheme: by self
reference a tale mnemonically helpful was ansured. An able title
suddenly existed - "Circle Digits". Taking pen I began. Words
emanated uneasily. I desired more synonyms. Speedily I found my
(alongside me) Thesaurus. Rogets is probably an essential in
doing this, instantly I decided. I wrote and erased more.
The Rogets clearly assisted immensely. My story
proceeded (how lovely!) faultlessly. The end, above
all, would soon joyfully overtake. So, this memory
helper story is incontestably complete. Soon I
will locate publisher. There a narrative
will I trust immediately appear,
producing fame. THE END.
The preceding self-referential story is a mnemonic for the first 402
decimals of the number PI. As it indicates, merely count the number of
letters in each word of the story (beginning with the first word, "For",
up to and including the final words, "The End") to obtain the successive
decimals to PI. Any punctuation mark other than a period represents a zero
digit (a period stands for no digit). Words of longer than 9 letters
represent two adjacent digits (for example, a twelve-letter word
represents the two digits 1-2). A digit written literally stands for the
same digit in the expansion. This feature would be considered "cheating".
As far as I can determine, this story estabilishes a new record length
for a literary PI mnemonic, although clearly the length of such a mnemonic
is limited only by the patience of the constructor. It has been checked
by a computer program for correctness to the decimals of PI.
(from The Mathematical Intelligencer, Vol.8 No.3, Pg.56/57)
For those who want to compose even longer mnemonics using the same or
similar rules, the following points may be of interest:
1. At decimal 601, the first triple-zero occours. Clearly we can handle
this with the present scheme, but a little ingenuity is required. No
quadruple-zeros occur within at least the first 10,000 decimals, so
we don't have to concern ourselves with that possibility.
2. At decimal 772 we encounter the amazing sequence 9999998. This seven-
digit group has the largest digit sum of any seven-digit group in
the first million decimals! Because of the resulting requirement for
seven adjacent long words, it also poses quite a challenge in encoding.
We have seen pi-mnemonic sentences, poems, and now, a short story.
Perhaps some day a complete novel?
2A Systems Design Engineering