Michael "Mike" Byster is an American mathematician, mental calculator and math educator. He worked as a stockbroker until he quit his job and income to devote himself to teaching children his methods. Mike is able to do many arithmetic problems in his head at very fast speeds. During a study done years ago, Byster was claimed to have one of the fastest mathematical minds in the world.
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My short bio: Hey reddit! A little about me:
I've spoken to thousands of schools in the last 20 years, teaching schoolchildren how to memorize, focus, concentrate, and enjoy learning.
I am a huge Chicago sports fan, I love watching crime shows, and love spending time with my family and Golden Retriever, Wrigley!
I was a commodity trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for 23 years, but then found my passion was in changing the lives of children, and so I quit in 2004.
Please feel free to ask me any question - I have specific tricks, tips, and exercises relating to memory, focus, concentration, and arithmetic.
Edit: We'll be back on answering questions at 9:00 PM EDT!
Edit 2: Thanks for the great questions! We'll check back in tomorrow, June 6, and answer any remaining ones.
My Proof: More proof submitted to mods yesterday.
Hi, Mike. Thank you for doing this. After watching the video, I was impressed by your ability to handle large-numbered problems so fast. But can you see why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?
Absolutely! It's part of a complete breakfast!
Well then, OK! Care to discuss all the fun significance of the number 370?
I have been thinking about it for the past hour. I can't think of anything significant! Can I please get a hint?
Hey Mike! Is there any advice you can offer or resources you can link to on the topic of increasing focus and concentration--specifically for the purpose of increasing reading speed and learning ability?
I'm obsessed with reading, I have a personal library of over 1000 books and I always feel overwhelmed by the amount of information I want to consume.
Any advice for quenching this thirst for knowledge would be much appreciated! Thanks! Have a good day!
Thank you for the question! One of the things I teach to increase focus is a card trick I learned decades ago and still practice it on occasion when my focus needs a boost. It trains your mind to not get distracted for minutes at a time and I really suggest you time yourself when you do this. I'll PM you a link with the instructions!
How did you discover your math skills?
When I was a 4 or 5 year old kid, I would play "War", the card game, with my great-grandmother. It was my dad's 35th birthday. After a couple rounds of "War", I told my great-grandmother, "hey! All the cards we played ended up adding up to my dad's birthday. She looked at all the previous cards and saw they added up to 35.
I suppose you know who Arthur Benjamin is. How effective are the techniques he teaches? I'm thinking about his TED talks, and it's amazing to me what he can do.
I admire Arthur Benjamin's work a lot. The main difference between us is I prioritize teaching the skills that enable you to do these big math problems, like creative thinking, focus, concentration, etc. and how to take those skills to everyday life.
4 comments in 14 minutes - do the math... Did you know you were an hour early, Mike?
Yes - I just wanted to put it up early in case anyone wanted to ask questions before I start! :)
Who do you think will win the Stanley Cup?
79% chance the Blackhawks will win.
Do you have any tips on how to increase my mental arithmetic speed? So far the most complex thing I can do in my head in less than 5 seconds is multiply 2 two-digit numbers together. I would love some advice on how to do more complex things.
That's amazing! Great question, thank you for asking. I'm PMing you a sheet on how to square a three-digit number. It may take a little practice, but if you can multiple two-digit numbers in your head at that speed, I think you should be able to do this really well with a little practice.
Share with us some of your easiest mental math tricks?
Thanks for the question! Here's a fun math shortcut for multiplying 2 numbers in the 90s together.
What separates The Power of Forgetting from so many of the other similarly focused self-help books out there?
Thanks for the question! To empower your mind, I teach people how to ease "mind-clutter" - how to "delete" the information that's unimportant. One of the ways I do this is through adding up small, 1 digit numbers in your head. This trains your mind to only memorize what's important, which is the ongoing total. To get people to add up small numbers, I teach them some fun magic tricks. I'll PM you a link to an instruction sheet on one of my tricks. It's a great way to practice prioritizing information and it's a lot of fun!
Can someone forget something that's consciously chosen?
Thanks for the question. It's very difficult. I have certain memories in my life, like everyone, that I wish I could forget, but try this: the next time you think about it, try to make a mental picture and change it a bit.
Story time: When I was young, we played tackle football. My friend Steve tackled someone on the opposing team and broke his leg. I could not get that picture of his leg out of my mind. That same scenario kept coming back over and over. Instead of looking at his leg, I started to modify it so I saw just my friends and I standing around a table of desserts, not the broken leg, and it really did work. I stopped seeing the broken leg and fixating on it, and instead saw the memory as less intrusive.
I actually wanna forget completely about my ex girlfriend,I mean everything related to her.
Is something like that possible?
Great question. That's a tricky thing because there are so many triggers that would invoke a bad memory. First of all, try to get rid of all tangible items that remind you of her. Try not to revisit the places you went to together, or try not to do some of the activities you would do together. You definitely don't want to stop living your life because of it, but if your main goal is getting rid of the memory specifically, try to make an effort to temporarily stop "reliving" the memories. After a while, the memories should fade.
Haha thanks for sharing! It holds true for a right triangle, where a^2 + b^2 = c^2, so Homer pretty much just took the square root of both sides. However, the third side (c) has to be the hypotenuse.
Calculator fun - demo'd for my grandkids - couple of ways to end up with 1234567890 on the display. Fun to get a 1111111111 result, too.
That's very cool! 12345679 * 9, for example, does equal 111,111,111.
Really the odds are pretty much the same, but I suggest 10 consecutive weeks because it draws out the fun. I do suggest letting the machine pick the numbers for you, because if you play your favorite numbers, and you forget to play them one week, and it happened to win, you'll never forgive yourself!