In seconds, Clay multiplies a pair of five-digit numbers and writes down the answer in a single line. There's none of the sloppy rows of zig-zagging numbers that would normally clutter a page. Such is the beauty of his homemade formula -- titled "How to Multiply Any Number by Any Number in Your Head" -- which is registered as TXu001325432 in the U.S. Copyright Office.
This next part is interesting and can have a certain value, but it's not one I'd impose upon students:
Clay's technique may be novel, but there are dozens of tricks for multiplying large numbers without pen or pad, especially in China and Japan, said Moody Chu, math professor at N.C. State University. Chu knows of a competition in East Asia that has schoolchildren racing to spit out the answers to three-digit problems, all figuring done silently and hands-free.
Maybe my standards are too low.