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Number Patterns

In my profile (over on the sidebar) one of the things I say about myself is that I have a knack for number patterns.

I thought that today I'd explain what that meant exactly.

Well, besides the obvious.

Ralexwin once told me that he couldn't believe that I struggled with math since I remembered numbers so well. It was probably one of the most flattering things he's ever said to me. I mean, I grew up in  an generation where it was believed that women were good at English and men were good at Math... so as a girl, I was told repeatedly that I couldn't be good at math. Having my husband say otherwise was like saying that it's okay for women to like Math, or better yet, that a woman could be good with numbers and still be feminine.

It seems like a strange sentiment to be raised with, but that's how I grew up.

Anyway, back to my point, so Ralexwin noticed that I had an ability to remember numbers. Phone numbers, addresses, pin numbers, account numbers, locker combinations... any of it. I only have to see it a few times and I've got it in my head from then on.

The exception to this is my kids social security numbers. I can't remember them. I suppose I haven't tried very hard, but at least one of them has no pattern that I can find and that makes it difficult.

So what do  I mean by pattern?

Well, I'll give you an example... my ss # is

Haha! Did you actually think I was going to give you that? Nice try though.

I'll use an old phone number from my childhood. 233-3124. It's a super easy pattern, so kind of ridiculous that anyone would forget it. But this is how I see it:

Nothing exceeds 4.
The three is missing from the 12_4 because it's been moved over to help with the beginning.
3+1 equals four which is the last number. 3124
1+2 equals 3 which is the firs number in the second set. 3124
4-2 equals 2 which is the very first number. 233-3124
3+3 equals 6 which is the same as 4+2. which are both the last two digits of either set. 233-3124

I seriously could keep going.

When I see a set of numbers this is immediately what my brain starts doing. Searching out patterns.

Our old address in Arizona was 1321:

It also counts down 321.

Clear as mud?

But those are both easy patterns.

Our first phone number was 377-9238

I saw it as two separate groups of numbers, the lower ones (2, 3) and the higher ones (7,8,9). 
Each section of the phone number shared parts of both groups.
There were two-3's and two-7's. But the sevens were lonely because the 8 and 9 weren't in their group.
Likewise, the 3 was lonely because it wasn't with the others of it's group.

Somehow this all melds together in my brain and I remember the number... easily.

The irony is that I struggled so much with math as a teen.  I mean, I took basic Algebra for all four years of high school. I never took Geometry because I could never get passed Algebra. The interesting thing about that is that I PASSED Algebra with a B in 9th grade.

But then I froze, I think. I was given the opportunity to move forward and I chose to stay at such a basic level because I couldn't possibly have understood what I was doing. It surely must have been a fluke that I passed. So I promptly failed every following year.

After all, every man I knew had told me I couldn't understand it. My math teachers (except my 9th grade one), my dad, even my brothers who merely excelled in the subject seemed to be telling me that as a girl I was bound to fail at math.

Ralexwin shattered that fallacy with one passing comment and ever since then I've been curious to take Algebra over again. Try it again with a new perspective, just to see what I could accomplish.

I wonder.


Gr8Life said…
I am bad with numbers and not because of anything anyone told me. They are just another world that my mind will not wrap it's self around. It's like listening to someone talk in Japanese I have no clue what they are talking about. I'm amazed I learn to count past 10. My kids are very fortunate though because they have their Dad's brain He LOVES numbers and so do they. Both my son & daughter do well in that area my son is a 5th grader my daughter a 3rd grader and unfortuantly the day has already arrived when my son said could you help me with this (His math homework) and I said your Dad will when he gets home. It's nothing I'm proud of and I really wish it's a concept I could grasp but I guess that is just not my gift.
Your explanation of how you process numbers just boggles my mind!
Claire Wessel said…
We have the weirdest thing in common. Frankly, I suck at math! I took Algebra four times before I could pass it, but I know it pretty good now.

You are the first person I've ever heard of who remembers number patterns the same way I do! I've tried to teach Crimson my method of remembering numbers (it's math-based just like yours!) and she was just horrified. No one ever gets what I'm talking about. Do you use this method to remember the 9's times table? I could never remember them until I realized that they all add up to 9 and begin with a number one less than the number being multiplied with 9 (i.e., 9*7=63... do you see it??)

Anyways, as far as I can tell, I'm very, very good at identifying patterns in nearly anything. Even if I can't tell what the pattern is right away, I can still tell the pattern is there. This has not translated into anything awesome in the math department AT ALL! Though I'm much better at statistics than algebra stuff. I had to take a college algebra class as part of my general ed at USD and I barely survived with a C, even though I studied my butt off! At least now I know I can learn it, which is more than I believed when I was in high school :)

So, I fully support your math class ambitions :)
I LOVE this post! I am the same way about numbers. I used to sit in church and "play" games with the hymn numbers to keep myself entertained during sacrament meeting. I've always thought about trying to explain what I do with numbers in my head, but just didn't know how. You said it perfectly. Maybe I'm not so weird afterall. And I seem to have a bit of a photographic memory with numbers too, except my kids SSNs too. Ha ha!

And even what you said about math....Me too!
Kira =] said…
Yay! I'm not alone!! I do the same thing with numbers I have to remember- find a pattern. My husband doesn't understand how I do it and calls it my "new math". lol. I also can't for the life of me remember my kids SSNs, but I have my husbands down pat.
Cannwin said…
@Kira =] My husbands ssn is almost exactly the same as mine. it's very confusing.

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