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3. Attention: Hacks 34–43 > 35. Count Faster with Subitizing

Count Faster with Subitizing

You don’t need counting if a group is small enough; subitizing will do the job, and it’s almost instant.

The brain has two methods for counting, and only one is officially called counting. That’s the regular way—when you look at a set of items and check them off, one by one. You have some system of remembering which have already been counted—you count from the top, perhaps—and then increment: 7, 8, 9...

The other way is faster, up to five times faster per item. It’s called subitizing. The catch: subitizing works for only really small numbers, up to about 4. But it’s fast! So fast that until recently it was believed to be instantaneous.

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