I have been working on a simpler spaced repetition system (the Leitner System relies on a simple yes/no response) implemented as a wepapp: http://flashcarddb.com
The article mentions the popularity of spaced repititon software in Poland. And sure enough a large number of my incoming users are from Poland and a few other European countries that are familiar with the concepts.
Another open source Supermemo alternative is Mnemosyne.
I have thought of adding the option of a more complicated rating system for grading answers but most new users tend to be relatively new to the idea of spaced repetition. So, for now, I am keeping it relatively simple.
I've been using SuperMemo off and on for the last ten years. It is by no means an elegant or user friendly app. However, there is a lot of science behind it and it's worth checking out by anyone interested in memory. Readers of yc should have no problem with it.
Another point worth mentioning is that Wozniak has shared his knowledge with the world. He publishes each algorithm and explains it in detail. He also writes extensively about memory and learning and it's all available on his website. He also provides free downloads of older versions of the app.
I couldn't agree more with your points about Wozniak and Supermemo. Wozniak, Leitner and others were my inspirations. I used their systems while studying myself.
(Edited the original to make it more unambiguous!)
So no Mac version? The site mentions an in-progress Linux version but it sounds like it's not happening.
Accepts Mnemosyne decks, too.
On another note - isn't it scandalous how inefficient education is? Cramming all those mind-numbing details in your brain the night before an exam, and then forgetting 70% of them after a couple of months. Ridiculous and wasteful.
Back to the main point: yes, school is very inefficient, but I think the problem of student apathy and disinterest for the subject matter is in more urgent need of fixing than retention itself.
That said, I'd be happy if my brain had retained a bit more of the undergraduate mathematics, and a bit less of the lyrics to theme tunes from 1980s sitcoms, but never mind.
I also recommend http://ichi2.net/anki/, which has a Japanese focus but is by no means exclusive to it.
Also, just to let you know, I've found that studying kanji on their own is generally a waste of time; without context, they tend to lose their meaning quickly. Even if you ask Japanese people to explain kanji, they usually do so by referencing compounds in which that character is present.
I was just thinking today how it's time to start studying Japanese again. I studied there for a year when I was in high school, but have forgotten a lot since then. Time to relearn :)
SuperMemo is an ingenious program with a rotten UI. I have been looking for better ways to do this and would be interested in speaking with anybody else with similar interests.
However, a video taped portion of your life contains memories encoded in many different modalities (as opposed to, say, information on flashcards, which is, for the most part, factual). This mixture of memories makes an algorithm specifically designed for a certain type of memory a suboptimal one. That's not to say it's not useful, but there is a lot of improvement to make in this area (and I would very much like to be a part of it! :-) )
The article says the forgetting point is different for everyone, and is different for different sorts of info. Does the software somehow find the right point? Or is the variance not enough to worry about?
For instance, he states that "lifetime minimum cost of remembering a single well-formulated piece of knowledge can easily be estimated to fall into the range from 30 seconds to 5 minutes (minimum cost is the cost that is achieved using the optimally spaced repetition schedule). This estimation can be used in cost-benefit analysis in deciding which mission-critical pieces of knowledge should be subject to learning based on spaced repetition."
I also wish Piotr Wozniak would write a book (even though he'd probably consider it a waste of time). Work like his is so important, and positive, and humanitarian. Even if he's just doing what he enjoys, I believe we're all the better for it.
Summary: memory decays exponentially, (e ^ -t) but slower with each repetition (e ^ -0.5t). So there is a sweet spot for timing repetitions, and it can be calculated if you store past data, which makes memorization much more efficient.
brilliant idea in itself. (bought a copy at $19)
I suspect that physics may remain a limiting factor for the professor's suggestion, but SuperNote is an intriguing application. I believe the Pimsleur language courses use a similar method of 'staggered reminding' to encourage your retention of knowledge.
"There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] suggests, and try it."
Douglas Adams was awesome.
Reinforcing the right one can be spaced, but breaking the habit is harder. One study involving OCD patients achieved this via a staged process. I forgot the details, but essentially, you train yourself to use your bad habit as a cue for another behavior, which diverts yourself from the result of your bad habit. Something like, if I wanted to stop washing my hands obsessively, I would put a message on the faucet that said "take a walk!" Then, every time I get the urge, I would take a walk, etc. It's obviously not this simple, but that should illustrate how reshaping old behavior is different from creating new ones.
For example, learning a new programming language (once you know how to program in general) is at least 50% vocabulary. It's learning the keywords and syntax, library functions, etc. Likewise for most kinds of skills. Sailing is largely knowing the names, the knots, and the laws (plus practice). Driving is laws, and a few basic automotive concepts. Law is lots and lots of cases. Medicine is lots and lots of anatomy. All of these things are memorization, and that memorization is a barrier to expertise.
Memorization is clearly not the most useless type of learning. It's core to almost every skill.
Comparative review - http://www.nihongoperapera.com/spaced-repetition-memory-soft...
A lot of Mac people sing its praises.