Wednesday Jul 18, 2007

The Doomsday Algorithm

As I get older, I make efforts wherever I can to keep my mind sharp. Working for Sun is pretty intellectually demanding, but there's no harm in doing a few extra exercises to keep in shape, right? I never store a phone number in my cell phone, so that I'll be forced to use my memory. Seems to work -- people are often surprised at the phone numbers I have rattling around in my skull. It helps to use mnemonics, too. For instance, one seldom-used phone number I've remembered for years is 223-0454. That's easy: .223 is a common rifle bullet caliber, and 454 is the number of cubic inches in a storied big-block Chevy engine.

For dates, I use the Doomsday Algorithm. It's a simple, clever mnemonic and once you know it, all you have to do at the beginning of each new year is to check the day of the week that the last day of February falls on. Then you're set for the rest of the year with the ability to quickly calculate the day of the week corresponding to any date. Thanks to its inventor, the mathematician John Horton Conway, I'm keeping the little gray cells in fighting trim.

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davidleetodd

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