(The most up-to-date version of this document, and MemAid itself, can be found at: memaid.sf.net)

Forced repetitions

By David Calinski

Note: "forced repetitions" mode might be implemented in some (or all) front-ends.
Here I want to make you aware of this mode, tell when you should use, and when not.

Forced repetitions from user point of view

MemAid was designed to be a tool that allows to minimize your time spend on learning by allowing you to make repetitions on the most optimal days (when information is close to forget, but not yet forgotten).

The heart of MemAid (an Artificial Neural Network) tries its best to schedule repetitions on the most optimal days. ANN is not perfect, but learn itself from own mistakes.

In an ideal world you would learn on "the right days" (making repetitions every day, and spending exact amount of time to repeat all scheduled items, but not repeating items that shouldn't be repeated yet).
We don't live in an ideal world, but... I think we should try to make it ideal as much as we can.
If you want to benefit the most from using optimal spacing of repetitions, you have to try to make repetitions on scheduled times. Not sooner, not later.

Now, late repetitions are evil, they destroy the most optimal flow of learning. But it's really hard to avoid them. We all may be late with repetitions sometimes (we may be on holidays without computer, or just don't have time on a day). It's OK (damage to a learning process is not huge) as long as delays in late repetitions are not significant (e.g. up to +30% of scheduled interval) and there are not too many late repetitions.

Second evil that destroys the most optimal flow of learning is "forced repetitions" mode. Here you make repetitions ahead of the most optimal date. By making these repetitions you increase your retention (percent of items you remember), which is good.
But the price you pay for higher retention rate gained by "forced repetitions" is usually high.

I would like to say that "forced repetitions" are of no sensible use in a software designed to MINIMIZE time spend of learning to the absolute MINIMUM while keeping retention MAXIMAL.
Software that finds the most optimal balance between time spend on learning and knowledge retention.
I would like to say that if you have too much time on a day: learn new items, go walk with a dog, read a book, anything, but don't waste your time by repeating items you still remember (if you don't remember an item that would be presented on "forced repetition" mode it generally mean than ANN failed here (or an item was enormously difficult), but ANN corrects itself and there is no reason to try to outsmart ANN.)

But... after all we don't live in a perfect world, unfortunately.
Sometimes we have more spare time, don't want to learn new items, but just want to repeat those already known.
Sometimes we are willing to pay the high price for higher retention (e.g. cramming before an exam).
And finally: sometimes we anticipate that we will be for a longer time without access to MemAid, so we want to make some repetitions ahead-of-schedule.

That's why "forced repetitions" (maybe called "learn ahead" or something alike in a front-end), are sometimes offered.
But use this mode wisely and keep in mind that learning process is most effective (maximum retention with minimal time spend on learning) when you don't use "forced repetitions" nor you are late with normal, scheduled repetitions, but you make repetitions on the optimal, scheduled by ANN, days.

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