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Human memory appears to be fragile and unpredictable. Free recall of random lists of words is a standard paradigm used to probe episodic memory. We proposed an associative search process that can be reduced to a deterministic walk on random graphs defined by the structure of memory representations. The corresponding graph model can be solved analytically, resulting in a novel parameter-free prediction for the average number of memory items recalled (R) out of M items in memory: R=sqrt[3πM/2]. This prediction was verified with a specially designed experimental protocol combining large-scale crowd-sourced free recall and recognition experiments with randomly assembled lists of words or common facts. Our results show that human memory can be described by universal laws derived from first principles.