Forgetting curve and spacing effect

Memoet is a free and open source spaced repetition software, and the problems which we are trying to solve have a historical connection to the forgetting curve and the spacing effect which was discovered by Hermann Ebbinghaus - a German psychologist in 19th century.

Forgetting curve

The forgetting curve hypothesizes the decline of memory retention in time, and the spacing effect demonstrates that learning is more effective when study sessions are spaced out.

- Wikipedia

The best methods proposed by Ebbinghaus to increase the strength of memory are:

  • Better memory representation, such as mnemonic techniques

  • Repetition base on active recall, especially spaced repetition

Mnemonic skills are effective but hard to attain. A more simple solution to significantly decrease the effects of the forgetting curve is to spend time each day to remember things.

Nevertheless, the frequency of repeating will be different depends on how new and how hard a concept is. That’s how spacing effect works and the reason we got spaced repetition algorithms to help.

As it turned out, there are serveral families of algorithms for scheduling repetition:

  • Neural networks based

  • Leitner system

  • SuperMemo family, most popular is SM2, which Memoet implements.

Whatever methods you choose to combat with forgetting curve, you should make that a daily habit to exploit the spacing effect. Oh and give Memoet a try!