Spaced Repetition Database for A Human's Guide to Words

post by divia · 2011-01-10T00:21:28.461Z · score: 34 (37 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 36 comments

Followup to: Spaced Repetition Database for Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions

I've updated my Anki database for the Less Wrong Sequences to include cards from A Human's Guide to Words. I've been trying to put less information on each card, and I relied on cloze deletion more for the newer ones.  Feedback is much appreciated. You can download them by opening up Anki, going to Download > Shared Deck and searching for Less Wrong Sequences.

I probably erred on the side of making way too many cards, but it seemed really important to me to internalize this stuff, since I think it has quite a lot of practical value. I can tell learning this deck has improved the quality of my thinking and my conversations with people because I'm better at noticing when I'm making one of the 37 mistakes and changing my course. I hope other people find it useful too!


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by phob · 2011-01-12T15:42:30.453Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I made a deck of the list of cognitive biases and list of fallacies from wikipedia.

comment by olimay · 2011-01-11T10:23:36.637Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, holy crap Divia. That is a lot of cards.

As an Anki user (yes I switched!), I would have the cards using a model where the source post is in a separate field, perhaps with the url as another field. I guess if we're trying to stick to Q/A for compatability with other SRS systems, that's not a good idea, and what I'm suggesting is a horrific amount of work if you were to do it by hand, because you'd have to redo all the cards. So, maybe these are goals for the long term, in case SRS learning really increases in popularity, and Anki decks become a good vehicle for delivery in of themselves.

Obviously I haven't actually worked my way through the new additions (or even through most of the existing ones) but I think the cloze deletions are a good change. Overall I think your later cards reflect your increasing wisdom for structuring and formatting the cards.

Thanks and keep up the great work!

comment by divia · 2011-01-12T10:13:19.478Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Having the source post in a separate field seems like a really good idea, and it never crossed my mind before, so thanks! It would be enough work that I'd probably write some script to do it instead of doing it by hand, but it might be worth it to me to do so at some point.

comment by phob · 2011-01-12T16:13:14.935Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You can do it by exporting the deck to csv, then using a emacs macro to automate the transition.

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-10T13:04:59.416Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Using this ought to make me comfortable enough with Anki to actually begin using it. I have for a while suspected that while rationality is seeping into my brain, I am only using it on LessWrong, and not remembering it anywhere else. Spaced repetition seems like the silver bullet for that.

comment by phob · 2011-01-10T02:21:17.375Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you so much for posting this! I use anki a lot, and your Mysterious Questions deck has been a great help =]

comment by marchdown · 2011-01-10T16:42:10.120Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Care to share your experiences with Anki? I'm just starting using it, and I have several qualms and questions. First of all, what is the proper way to select a sub-deck with hard cards and drill through them repeatedly? Second, if you are learning languages, what is your approach to grammatical notes and multiple word forms, and, generally, what do you do when you need to have more that just two pieces of information linked, as it is often the case with irregular verbs? Hope you don't mind my asking.

comment by phob · 2011-01-10T18:38:41.955Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW
  • Normal flashcards should be all equally difficult: as easy as possible. The idea is to break everything down into atomic facts; this makes it so you can't short-circuit a difficult card by just memorizing the answer; by memorizing all the parts, you still have the whole.

  • If you really want to drill one sub-deck, you can choose "cram mode" , and select the tag of the cards you want to review.

  • I don't use anki for languages, but to learn conjugations of verbs, I would have many example sentences with a "... " where the verb should go. You could ask on #anki or the google group. Here's a good article on how to make effective flashcards from the inventor of the spaced repetition algorithm, Piotr Wozniak.

  • Unconventional decks like having anki cards for a whole piano piece or problem in a textbook might work, but I haven't tried them... yet. I'll be experimenting with those this coming semester.

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-10T19:04:43.096Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Unconventional decks like having anki cards for a whole piano piece or problem in a textbook might work

I have used Anki for learning bass guitar parts to songs, and I found this method: break a piece up into individual riffs or themes, make flashcards with the "[name of song] [riff or theme sheet music / tablature]". Add in flashcards that use cloze deletion on a list of how the riffs progress (intro -> verse -> ... -> verse -> chorus -> coda, for example, deleting chorus) and you have 10-20 cards, depending on complexity. I also threw in transitional licks appropriate to the song to bump the count up.

When testing yourself with the deck, have your instrument at hand. On riff cards, practice the riff for five minutes, then hit 'again'. Answer the other cards as normal - I originally planned to play the riff that was deleted, but I found it wasn't really necessary. I suggest responding 'again' to each riff card until you can play the riff first try.

The bonus of this method is it works out to ~1 hour of practice of your instrument. I found huge improvements because it ensured 80% of my hour was spent actually learning and improving rather than practicing well-known or ingrained patterns. My recall of songs from name was significantly higher too.

comment by phob · 2011-01-10T19:14:39.836Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you! I was planning on setting up a system for piano and guitar and I wasn't really sure what would work. This sounds great =]

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-10T19:25:07.353Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Note that it might work better if you simply play the riff or theme once; my system has this weird time dynamic where some cards can take 5 minutes and be repeated three or four times, where others take 5 seconds and are dismissed first time around. This may not play nice with the spaced repetition algorithms.

comment by D_Malik · 2011-01-11T11:30:22.509Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've tried to learn Esperanto and French using Anki. I'd recommend that you don't actually explicitly learn the grammar of your target language. For fluency, you need to be able to use correct grammar without conscious thought. Using grammar SRS cards, eg. 'conjugate this verb', will enable you to know correct grammar, but not at the intuitive, subconscious level you need for real fluency.

The best way around this, it seems, is to train RECOGNITION of the meanings of many example sentences. This can be done two ways.

Firstly, through lots of exposure to media in the target language, eg. audiobooks. You don't need to understand what's being said, so long as you familiarize youself with the pronunciation, tone and stress patterns of the language. You will gradually start to understand what's being said, both from your SRS (see below) and just through osmosis, the way small children learn their home languages.

Secondly, by training understanding of many sentences in the language through SRS. You should not try to translate English sentences to sentences in your target language, you should only try to understand whatever the sentence in the target language means. In an SRS, you can add the sentence (in your target language) to the question field. Leave the answer field blank. If you fail to understand the sentence, look up all the words, idioms, etc. that you don't understand and add them to the answer field.

More on this technique:

comment by moridinamael · 2011-01-24T21:12:54.915Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Has anyone created a deck for An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem?

If not, would there be a lot of interest in a deck for An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem? I feel like spaced repetition and continuous correction of my understanding is the only way I will actually becomes more Bayesian, rather than merely thinking it would be really cool to be more Bayesian.

comment by Will_Sawin · 2011-02-04T16:13:02.012Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I need to update my model of learning for this.

comment by gwern · 2011-01-24T21:37:21.082Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've thought about doing it myself, but it seems like a challenging topic.

comment by djcb · 2011-01-12T06:10:03.480Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, that must have been a massive amount of work, thanks!

I don't think it's the kind of knowledge I'd want to rote-learn through spaced repetition, but I think it 'still interesting in the way reading the monthly rationality quotes on LW is.

comment by lukeprog · 2011-01-11T07:31:14.197Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I just started using this and it it's pretty great. Thanks for all your hard work!

comment by [deleted] · 2011-01-10T18:45:43.011Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Has anyone gotten the (pricey - $25) Anki iphone app? Does the app still make it easy to look up the Less Wrong deck? Alternately, has someone tried importing the deck into some (cheaper) SRS app?

comment by phob · 2011-01-13T01:12:49.950Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have the Anki iphone app. Considering the utility and convenience it provides, the price is negligible. For comparison, at a private college, tuition/# of classes ~= $200 / class, so as I use anki for schoolwork, it easily pays for itself.

If you do any sort of utility calculation for products you use, a lot of times convenience will trump price by orders of magnitude. This is one of those cases.

comment by gwern · 2011-01-10T22:49:27.770Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Anki decks can be exported into the lowest-common-denominator format among SRS apps: tab-delimited text files. They're supported by pretty much every app worth using, and if they aren't, easy to transform them into something the app does understand.

From the discussions on the Mnemosyne-proj-user mailing list which I didn't pay any attention to, there are apparently a number of free SRS apps for the iPhone.

(What isn't usually all that portable is the markup for formatting, images, audio, etc. But I don't think any of these cards are likely to involve much of that.)

comment by rhollerith_dot_com · 2011-01-11T05:08:00.703Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Anki decks can be exported into . . . tab-delimited text files.

If someone were to post a link to Divia's Guide to Words as tab-delimited text, I would look through it.

comment by olimay · 2011-01-11T09:04:52.276Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know a full featured app is much better, but Anki Online is completely free, and accessible via most browsers--although it requires an internet connection. Any deck you sync from the desktop (or other) version of Anki should be available via AnkiOnline.

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-11T05:45:14.479Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wow. I have a free Anki app on my Android phone.

comment by thelomen · 2013-08-05T17:05:47.546Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, this has been very helpful, I've previously used the wiki and personal notes, but this contains a decent summary.

comment by calcsam · 2011-05-21T17:03:20.346Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Divia, this is brilliant.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-01-12T19:33:39.188Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One only slightly related question: from

While you use the software, detailed statistics can be kept on your learning process. If you want, these logs can be uploaded in a transparent and anonymous way to a central server for analysis.

This data will be valuable to study the behaviour of our memory over a very long time period. As an additional benefit, the results will be used to improve the scheduling algorithms behind the software even further.

Does anybody here know how efficient the current scheduling is already, or how much differences there are between different people/topics/whatever?

comment by gwern · 2011-01-12T20:18:02.379Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Does anybody here know how efficient the current scheduling is already,

Mnemosyne uses one of the older Supermemo SRS algorithms; Peter (the Mnemosyne dev) has said in the past that the more recent & complicated Supermemo algorithms offer little advantage.

or how much differences there are between different people/topics/whatever?

I dunno. The relevant statistic is probably 'easiness'. IIRC, there is in fact a deck-wide easiness factor that is slowly adjusted to deal with users who systematically make very slowly or very quickly learned cards. You could try looking at the torrent of Mnemosyne statistics and see how widely that statistic varies from person to person?

comment by anemone42 · 2011-01-12T04:10:42.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am not quite following this. I just downloaded AnkiDroid. When I open the menu and choose "get shared deck", I get a huge list of decks. Is there another way to find the Less Wrong Sequence than going through this long, long list?

comment by divia · 2011-01-12T10:09:38.467Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have AnkiDroid, so I'm not sure if there's a way to search the shared decks within it, but if not I bet it would work to get the desktop version, sync it with an online account, and then sync AnkiDroid with the online account.

comment by Dorikka · 2012-07-07T23:37:28.049Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Confirmed. (Specific data point was the NVC deck, but I am confident that it generalizes.)

comment by Zachary_Kurtz · 2011-01-11T05:18:29.838Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

are the LW sequence decks available for Mnemosyne?

comment by olimay · 2011-01-11T09:23:53.141Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

[Edit: Divia posted this one above, while I was composing this comment: ]

Unless Divia has something better, here's a rough export to Mnemosyne:

LW Sequences .mem Deck: lw-sequences.mem

LW Sequences cards in a tab-delimited file: lw-sequences.txt

Couldn't figure out how to preserve the tags. AFAICT, Mnemosyne doesn't support importing them at present.

(Psst, Zach, maybe I should've told you this earlier, but I switched over to Anki! It was a little bit painful, since I had to abandon learning info on 600 or so cards, but Anki is just that good that I'm not sorry at all. I encourage you to continue to use what you're comfortable with and will actually learn with, but it's worth watching the Anki vids! Among other things, Anki natively supports syncing across computers, and it's possible to access the decks you've synced online via a web browser... Just sayin'.)

comment by gwern · 2011-01-11T17:08:41.896Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

LW Sequences .mem Deck: lw-sequences.mem

Mnemosyne's XML is strongly suggested, I think. For example, .mem (Python pickle format) will be going away in Mnemosyne 2.0 in favor of an SQLite database.

Couldn't figure out how to preserve the tags. AFAICT, Mnemosyne doesn't support importing them at present.

Treat tags as categories? Unless you really do have cards with multiple tags. Or wait for Mnemosyne 2.0, which loosens the categories into tags.

comment by Zachary_Kurtz · 2011-01-11T15:55:00.675Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I just downloaded Mnemosyne yesterday, so its not too late to test both softwares.