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College lecturer inspires with Pi Day challenge

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Maths tutor Troy Ashby has memorised the number Pi out to 6,000 digits (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Troy Ashby believes he has no special memory abilities — anyone who has seen his remarkable pi trick would be inclined to disagree.

Mr Ashby, a lecturer at Bermuda College, memorised the mathematical number to 6,000 digits behind the decimal after undertaking a challenge to observe international Pi Day.

It took him more than five hours to write out all those digits — 3.14 and the rest — in the College’s art gallery, and he achieved a 99.89 per cent accuracy after getting all but ten correct.

Mr Ashby shrugged off the suggestion he had done anything unusual.

He told The Royal Gazette: “I think I’m just an ordinary, average person. I don’t feel that my ability to memorise is any different from anyone else’s. I just decided that I’m going try and see if I can do it.”

His technique, he said was “no different as when you learn your alphabet”.

Pi is an infinite decimal whose numbers never repeat in a pattern.

The Guinness world record for memorising its digits, achieved by Rajveer Meena of India in 2015, is 70,000. There is no other known Bermuda record.

Mr Ashby, a maths lecturer and former Berkeley Institute pupil, was introduced to the pi challenge by former high school maths teacher and colleague Francis Furbert after she had returned from a conference in California in January 2014.

Mr Ashby said: “She brought back some audio of an individual calling them out. Immediately I liked what the person was doing, I felt that was interesting.

“Yes, why not see how many digits I can memorise. That’s where the idea came from.”

The idea first came about in the lead up to Pi Day 2014. Mr Ashby said: “We had already been celebrating Pi Day to some extent and I felt I should add this memorisation to our Pi Day celebrations.

“Pi Day is coming around, why don’t I try to go for 1,000 to make it more interesting, an amount that is worthwhile?”

The lecturer hopes that his accomplishment can “help inspire someone” achieve something they thought they were unable to do or never thought of themselves capable of doing.

He said: “Just set goals and see what it takes to achieve them.

“Don’t believe that anything is impossible because I didn’t know that people can memorise so many digits and now I, too, am doing it.”

He added: “I definitely want to add more on, I definitely want to move up.

“I feel confident that I can, once you get it down in your mind you don’t feel like there’s any real limit, you can just keep going. It’s a challenge, in life you have challenges. How far can you go?”