Skip to content

What is supermemo 2008?

Can't wait to have it, go here: SuperMemo 2008. This is a Short Summary of mine.
Next Posts: * IFFRS filter for SupeMemo IR (Spaced Repetitions anywhere) * CognyWiki Principles for Life-Long Note-Taking

Formulating Knowledge MindMap – revised

June 5, 2010

I finished the revised Formulating Knowledge MindMap (based on the twenty rules to formulate knowledge). It summarizes the most important principles that all Spaced Repetition  Q&A should include.

Print a copy and put it in your wall, until you know it trough, until you apply it unconsciously – second nature. I have a copy that way.

Another way to make a habit on using this principles is to include the 20 principles as items in you collection with the lowest forgetting index possible (add the mind map to every item for an easy reminder).  Ask your self  to make a new question while applying the principles —  “minimum information principle” “clozes” etc —  you want to all green principles, avoid all red, and choose when to use yellow ones

Don’t ask what is the principle xxx?. You need to procedurally learn them … Hmm, I’ll make a review on procedural learning on next posts.

Get a high definition copy here!

Creative Commons License
Formulating Knowledge MindMap by Germán Salízar Pareja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

Knowledge Formulation for Active Recall

May 31, 2010

I’ve asked a couple of days ago how did Little Fish got so good a learning items on SuperMemo. His post on Formulating Knowledge has some good examples of items formulated trough Incremental Reading.

By following the Twenty Rules of Formulating Knowledge in Learning he shows us how you can get to simple Q&A pairs.

I must admit this requires a learning process, but what doesn’t?

Little Fish, goes on from this piece of text to concise and precise questions, not always involving rote memory:

After the war, Oppenheimer chaired the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He opposed developing an even more powerful hydrogen bomb. When President Truman finally approved it, Oppenheimer did not argue, but his initial reluctance and the political climate turned against him. In 1953, at the height of U.S. anticommunist feeling, Oppenheimer was accused of having communist sympathies, and his security clearance was taken away. He had, in fact, had friends who were communists, mostly people involved in the antifascist movement of the thirties. […] He died of throat cancer in 1967.

“Science is not everything, but science is very beautiful.”

Trough getting this kind of questions:

  • After WWII, Oppenheimer chaired what US Commission? The US Atomic Energy Commission.
  • How did Oppenheimer feel about the hydrogen bomb? He opposed the development of it.
  • What did the government accuse Oppenheimer of? Being a communist.
  • How were his friends involved with communism? They were involved in the antifascist movement of the thirties.
  • What was the cause of Oppenheimer’s death? Throat cancer.
  • In what year did Oppenheimer die? 1967.
  • Oppenheimer quote: “Science is not […], but science is very beautiful.” (Answer: Everything)
  • Oppenheimer quote: “Science is not everything, but science is […].” (Answer: very beautiful)

Of course personal formulation of items varies by context, but I like the simplicity of the construction of the items.

Besides the items examples there are some useful thoughts of how to continue adding related info. You should check out .

I’m reformulating the mind map on the twenty rules for knowledge formulation (I have one printed copy on my wall close to the PC). Green, red, yellow colors reflect rules priority in the same way as traffic lights. If you would like a high quality copy know, send me an email or just comment this post.

I’m still open to new ideas on testing the algorithms for Spaced Repetitions (further info in previous post).

Plugins for SuperMemo UX (User Experience)

May 22, 2010
tags: , ,

SuperMemo has gone trough several version, from the simplest DOS to Iphone. I don’t like the restrictions on the Iphone version, but I like a lot SuperMemo UX interface, not much the kind you can build in the normal free version (the is no paid version), but the kind you see with in demo collections. If only I could build collections on it easily and have all the classic clunky supermemo features.

They aren’t ever probably going to put all the features on the UX version, the easily building collection part was not evident from the first versions of UX and its still not evident know. Thankfully, though,  a group of programmers has build a pluging, to help any one wanting to enjoy the best SRS algorithm (did I mentioned its free) in building their collections easily and with a lot more options.

I believe paid classic version of supermemo is worth its price, for the high end user (guilty me), but being able to use the, currently, bests SRS algorithm, and great looking interface, free, should be very appealing to many.

Here’s my Supermemo UX, no totally elaborated, list of pros and cons.


  • Nice layout
  • Several password protected users
  • Easy learning process backup
  • Q&A import trough txt (even multiple choice, comments, spell pad, etc.)
  • Sound language learning tools


  • Background is dull
  • Fixed fonts
  • No bookmarks, or even better tags (love this Anki’s feature)
  • No subsets
  • No multiple item editing, copying, formatting
  • No easy way to save collections in a single file.

I’m glad to let you know, there is a way to overcome most of the cons, as I mentioned above, thanks to Michael Czerwiński”s plugins, the SuperMemoUX pluging (currently version 2.0).

The terrible issue with this plugins, for most of us, was or still is the it’s language interface, because if you install and run the plugin’s, you might find your self seen like everything in its menu is Greek, but unfortunately its not, it’s Polish.

How do I how the plug-ins are worth the effort (no, I don’t know Polish). Well, I like to test things by learning, kind of circular way of learning, I’ve learned that supermemo worked by studying its help files in.. well… Supermemo. In the same way I know the plugins are great, because I learned almost all of the menu vocabulary (less then 300 words and/or phrases) by using Supermemo UX + plugins, and I love its features. So perhaps I shouldn’t “dodaj” more words to this post, and you should go and test the plugins.

You don’t need to learn it’s Polish vocabulary, SuperMemoUX plugin’s author, Michael Czerwiński,  has offered an English version in 4 weeks or so, if you don’t know Polish try out the SuperMemo UX, wait a little more an enjoy the Plugins later. Although they are free, a contribution to the Polish Association of Multiple Sclerosis is asked as retribution for the effort, which I believe is something good. Great job guys! Multiple Sclerosis is very disabling central nervous system disease, new treatments and research advances are giving hope to many people suffering this illness.

I’m thinking an ideal solution would be, SuperMemo UX totally synchronized with Iphone version and mobile windows version, but is there ever an ideal solution?

Download SuperMemo UX Plugins here. (or go here)

Plugging installing instructions:

  1. Unpack the ZIP file into a directory of SuperMemoUx (usually c: \ Program Files \ SuperMemo UX). All files should be unzipped, and new subdirectory SuperMemo UX \ Plugins created.
  2. Start the SuperMemo UX
  3. Start the PluginSystem.exe

Plugin requirements

  • Internet Explorer 7.0 (or later)
  • Microsoft. NET Framework 3.5

Aditional comments, info or proposals:

If you’ve being wondering what to use as an Spaced Repetition System, SuperMemo UX + Plugins is much easier to learn and understand, give it a try.

Wanakumbuka’s Further Research: I’ve being designing a research procedure for FullRecall vs Mnemosyne vs Anki and SuperMemo classic and Supermemo UX that will run over 1 year (this is the least time necessary for useful conclusions), if you guys have any ideas about how to conduct this research of you believe any other program should be tested, send me an email, or just comment this post.

Exporting Anki to Supermemo

May 15, 2010

Many readers have been searching for method to exporting Anki to Supermemo, I’m currently testing out Anki’s algorithm to validate if it works or if its faulty. Currently I can’t, yet, answer the second part, but for exporting Anki to SuperMemo I’ll tell you my easy low tech solution.

I would love to have some kind of program to make this conversion even faster. Most SRS’s application have an option to export to supermemo sm7 format. Full Recall has a very good one. I don’t understand the idea on locking some database into a proprietary format. Even mnemosyne’s author, who believes that no algorithm can improve the retention of what you learn, or at least not in a significant manner, has made an option to export easily to sm format. Why Damien Elmes, Anki’s author, doesn’t like the idea of exporting Anki’s to supermemo, I can’t tell. In this same manner I don’t understand why SuperMemoUX can’t be sync or share easily classic supermemo.

Well, for the Anki to SuperMemo, here’s what you can do. You’ll need NotePad++, a great open source text editor, and when you find it  useful as I have, contribute to the project, is a nice way to say, thank you.

Anki steps:

  • In Anki, open up the Deck you want to export
  • Go to menu file: export
  • Choose: Facts in tab separated file
  • Hit export and save the new txt file

Notepad++ steps:

  • Open above created text file
  • Replace using Ctrl+H in a two step sequence
  • check Regular Expression
  • Inserting Q:
  • In “Find What” type:
  • ^(.+)
  • In “Replace With” type:
  • \r\nQ: \1
  • hit “Replace all”
  • Inserting A:
  • In “Find What” type:
  •  \t
  • In “Replace With” type:
  •  \r\nA:
  • hit “Replace all”

Make sure you leave a space after Q: and A:

  • Save file and quit Notepad

In SuperMemo

  • File: Import: Q&A Text

Please leave feedback if you got trouble or some other issue regarding this method of exporting Anki.

Update: Thanks to Don Rivers via Twitter, I’ve found my self on a very unfair judgment, SuperMemo should also export to a standard format. Now Anki is probably not willing to make an easy way to export onto CSV, but as for SuperAuthor, I don’t think there’s any chance they’ll ever add this functionality. Even though THEY SHOULD.

When Repetition Does Not Improve Memory

May 8, 2010

I’ve been through many repetitions lately, what about you?. If you have, then this says repetitions should be all good, however, sometimes repetition is ineffective in promoting learning.

I’ll share with you Spaced Repetition practitioners, what most software vendors don’t usually tell you about the inefficiency of repetition or when all this adaptive learning won’t yield desired results, or in some circumstances, no learning at all.

I’m not denying that repetition is an important factor in learning, what I’m saying is that repetition under certain circumstances — that you should definitively avoid — it not only doesn’t help, but could even impair your recall.

Simply repeating an item over and over has little benefit for memory in the absence of attention or more elaborate processing of the material

The first example should start with a penny. Americans have seen this coin a great number of times, probably in the future we’ll only do cellphone transactions but for know, many of us have seen this coin enough times to know every detail on it, yet we only pay attention to its brownish color to differentiate it from other coins and thus that’s the most we remember about it. If I were to give you an old roman denarius, and tested you a week from now about details on it, you would be better a it than what you can currently remember about a penny (it would be the same with the currency of any other countries then USA). This proves that repetition in the absence of attention is strikingly ineffective in promoting learning.

A little more elaborated example of the ineffectiveness of repetition in the absence of attention is also illustrated when  items are memorized through rote rehearsal. In many experiments, where participants have to repeat items aloud over and over. When they are given an unexpected memory test on the rehearsed words, there is almost no relationship  between the number of overt rehearsals devoted to an item and later memory. Simply repeating an item over and over has little benefit for memory in the absence of attention or more elaborate processing of the material.

If an item has been presented in several contexts, it may become difficult to retrieve the occurrence that is being tested

Finally a some what curious effect is something very closely related to memorization of sets of elements. I’ll explain it using a medicine example, as I find this is a good explanation for why is it so difficult to learn list of symptoms for specific diseases.

Say you have to remember the most frequent symptoms in two diseases. Disease C most important symptoms being S1,S2,S3,S4 and disease D with its symptoms S3,S4,S5,S6.

If you study C symptoms before than D symptoms, then when asked to recall the most frequent symptoms in D, you’ll have more trouble recalling S3 and S4, because they’re also included in C.

Repetition may impair learning if memory is tested for only one occurrence. If an item has been presented in several contexts, it may become difficult to retrieve the occurrence that is being tested.

So while doing you repetitions, never repeat with out attention, and preferably do it with conscious elaboration (relating what you don’t know to what you already know).

As for the last inconvenience on not being able to recall symptoms of previous learned diseases, well I should probably keep the secret, but it all boils down to making you associations unique and finding relationships on the material you are memorizing, in this case it’s easy to remember that C and D, have common symptoms S3, S4 by the equivalence in the alphabet — you probably have already have guessed that out.

So avoid this two circumstances, and repeat over and over, while paying attention.

Source: John H. Byrne, Learning and Memory: A Comprehensive Reference. Volumen 2. 1st ed. (Academic Press, 2008). p.75.

Day 14, SuperMemo Ultramarthon Finish Line

April 27, 2010

Over the past 14 days I have done a total of 7534 repetitions, with an error rate of 17%, this accounts to almost 38% of my personal collection. Been able to review this amount of material is very impressive to me, even more because like I said before the were many postponed items in this review.

In the past it’s been impossible to go trough a review, of more then 10% of previously read materials, for long term test like mid term exams, you normally get trough the outlines and personal notes and review what you think you know or not. But there’s a catch on reviewing this way. You can’t know you don’t know something, because in order to do that you  first need a reference point (memory) on your mind. This catch leads to many unrevised subjects and, consequently, many mistakes  on the tests.

I was able to do more than what I though possible, and although you loose a lot of the social demands at this rate of studying, I can’t say it was not worth, I’m feeling much comfortable with my knowledge. It’s interesting to notice that blogging about it has made the journey possible, trough compromise to non personally known people, this is some of pros of digital age, it’s funny that comprise with study buddies in the past was less effective than blogging it out. Thank you all for the support, not only for the encouragement trough comments but with the overall number of visits to the blog, yesterday we had a new record on the number of visitors. Not being some celebrity site, or gizmo’s site, I’m pretty happy and proud with the interest in this small blog.

What did the effort feel like? Its been in a really demanding task, because of the time needed and the high level cognitive demands. By yesterday night, or perhaps a couple of days before,  I have learned that really long hours of  “deliberated learning” is very exhausting, albeit  hugely rewarding.

By deliberate learning, and borrowing the basis of the concept from Dr. K.ERICSSON,  I mean the kind of learning which is done with the only goal to improve what you do not yet know, hence the kind of learning you can only get trough spaced repetitions systems.

I believe this same level of learning can be achieved with any kind of repetitions system. There are no proofs about superiority of any algorithm regarding its effectiveness (if effectiveness is measured by level of retention and not necessarily time invested if creating the knowledge base). You could personally compare this many spaced repetition algorithms, but it takes quite a lot of time to learn and study them.

The main reason I use SuperMemo is because I feel comfortable in it because it does what I need most of what I need. Expertise on any subject demands that you move out of the comfort zone to a step further, but testing out one over another algorithm, and any other type of learning tools would only make me an expert on learning software. Its not that I’ll stop doing it any time soon, I love to see what’s out there and what could help more people accomplish effective learning, what I’m explaining here is the reason it takes me a lot of time to review something. Gladly, now it takes much less to review what I have studied before.

13 Day, Supermemo Ultramarathon – Be a Predator, not prey

April 26, 2010

Almost there, today will be the last of the 14 days supermemo ultramarthon, I’ve made 548 repetitions yesterday, weekend always have more distractions in my life.

I’ll take one ore two days, and after that I’ll make my mind regarding what is the next step on my preparation for the test coming up.

I’ve been reading certain articles about how it is important to forget in order to improve memorization, but that incomplete, what is not incomplete is this article about hunches.

Reminder for today: Be the predator, not prey

In the Army study of I.E.D. detection, researchers found that troops who were good at spotting bombs in simulations tended to think of themselves as predators, not prey. That frame of mind by itself may work to reduce anxiety, experts say

#Title: In Battle, Hunches Prove to Be Valuable Assets.
#Link: [Accessed:2009-07-28]
#Element: 102670: In Battle, Hunches Prove to Be Valuable Assets.