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One to Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers [Hardcover]

Andrew Hodges
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

6 Sep 2007
Have you ever thought about the uniqueness and simplicity of One, or what it means to be Two? Is Four really so square and why are there Seven days of the week, Seven deadly sins, indeed Seven wonders of the world? In "One to Nine", Andrew Hodges brings numbers to life. Inspired by millennia of human attempts to figure things out, this pithy, kaleidoscopic book takes a fresh, witty and hands-on approach to such various topics as musical harmony, the probabilities in poker, code breaking and the lottery. It probes the surprising symmetries of time, space, matter and forces. It even goes to the heart of what computers can do. Interweaving all these lies the inner life of the numbers, the patterns of primes and powers, which we try to grasp, and which have us in their grip. Accessible to anyone with a general curiosity and interest in puzzles, "One to Nine" might even have you completing your fiendish Sudoku in record time...

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books; 1st edition (6 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904977758
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904977759
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,108,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

In his dazzling chapter about the number four, Hodges moves within a few pages from Strauss's last songs to to the sizes of notepaper (A4 and the rest) to Fermat's last theorem with such ease that we hardly notice. These and other anecdotes make this the ideal book for everyone interested in the only universal language, especially if their mathematical curiosity exceeds their skill. -- Seven Magazine, The Sunday Telegraph, September 23, 2007

One to Nine - ostensibly a simple snapshot of the mathematical world - is a virtuoso stream of consciousness containing everything important there is to say about numbers in just over 300 pages. It contains multitudes. It is cogent, charming and deeply personal, all at once. -- The Daily Telegraph, September 22, 2007

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre but delightful popular science 2 Nov 2008
Format:Hardcover
It is unlikely there will ever be a popular science book with more references to the Pet Shop Boys than this one. 'One to nine' by Andrew Hodges, then, is a unique work. On the surface it's about mathematical trivia, well organized into nine chapters dealing with the numbers 1 to 9. This is a misleading thought.

Actually, this is a 300 page brainstorm, with mr. Hodges freely associating on any subject he happens to stumble upon, be it sudokus or the meaning of the number 5 in George Orwell's '1984'. Somewhere the reader even finds himself talked to by a drug dealer explaining why one cannot divide 0 by 0. The book is structured more like an avantgarde novel than a work of nonfiction. The numbers become characters, and only through them the reader becomes aware of themes woven into the chapters, such as the heroic feats of Kurt Gödel.

Those seeking comprehensive knowledge of numerology are likely to be left utterly confused. Those willing to be taken on an imaginative journey involving numbers will find this a bizarre but delightful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Bazza
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a very readable book explaining a number of fascinating mathematical concepts and relating many of them to modern day life. With a couple of exceptions all the reasoning was easy to follow, without the need for the reader to resort to pencil and paper.

I enjoyed the book very much, and my reason for purachase was to give it to someone as a present.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for the mathematically challenged 17 Jun 2009
By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Oxford Fellow Andrew Hodges, who wrote the very well received biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma (1992), uses--rather quixotically I might say--the one to nine format to delve into the world of mathematics. His emphasis is on number theory, mathematics as applied to physics, and mathematics as applied to cryptology. The text is difficult, and the puzzles strewn throughout, whether labeled, EASY, GENTLE, TOUGH, HARD, TRICKY or DEADLY, proved mostly too difficult for this non-mathematician.

For those readers versed in number theory, that branch of mathematics in which numbers are explored purely for their own sake without even the dream of a practical application, this book is probably a delight. And for cryptologists it is probably a double delight since Hodges explores in some considerable depth the delicious irony of how pure mathematics became contaminated, as it were, when it was noticed some years ago that the encryption of messages could be facilitated by using very large numbers with unique divisors. While it is easy to multiply two even very large numbers and get a unique result it is enormously difficult to find the unique factors that make up a very large number.

At any rate that is my understanding. And if I have gotten it wrong it is only because I am not much of a mathematician. Which brings me to the central criticism of this book. To put it bluntly I don't think anyone but a mathematician can fully appreciate Andrew Hodges' text. It's that difficult. Additionally, Hodges, who is a physicist as well as a mathematician, brings string and twistor theory into the fray further multiplying the difficulties for the general reader.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get past chapter 1! 30 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback
I am not innumerate or illiterate (of course, that is just my opinion) but I found chapter 1 of this book hard going and decided enough was enough. My problems with the book are that there is too much flitting from subject to subject - some have called this "a free-wheeling approach", "free association" and "brainstorming". I thought it was a hotchpotch of random facts. I think the only useful lesson in that chapter was around the "unique primacy of numbers" but that was so poorly explained that I had to reread it several times before I understood it. I'm afraid that I couldn't continue.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.2 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Yes, But Way Over My Head 26 Aug 2008
By Mark B. Schott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have always enjoyed math and use numbers constantly in making illustrations about everyday events. I won't tell you not to try this book as much of the material is fascinating! However, in spite of my mathematical background, I found that most of the material was too abstract for my feeble mind. I had trouble comprehending some of the concepts that were presented as being fairly simple. Hopefully, you are smarter than I am and will enjoy this book. If you struggle with numbers to begin with, I would suggest something more basic.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One to Nine and a lot more 10 Sep 2008
By G. E. Watson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am enjoying the book a lot, but bewarned--you may not get a lot of the references he makes if you don't a some math background. I have undergraduate degrees in math and physics and I needed that to understand some of the details. Hodges discusses a lot more than just the numbers. For example he uses the number eight (one byte) as an excuse to discuss a lot about computers and computing with many (interesting) references to the ideas of Alan Turing (about whom he wrote a book). Many of the other chapters also wander into areas you might not have guessed were related to that number--but that's not a bad thing. I recommend the book to readers who haven't forgotten all their algebra.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good bed time reading . . . 17 April 2010
By J. Korte - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have the basic education to digest this book and I'm of the same 'vintage' as the author so I can see his mind set. This book should never have made it past the editor's desk. It's a good start but it needs serious work with respect to organization etc.
It's more like the author's conversation with himself - that's it - it reads like a blog!! Except it isn't one so I cannot blast the author when he gets too full of himself or wanders hopelessly far from his premise (which is often hard to determine.)
The book is an entertaining read, though, in small chunks, as bed time reading.

It's been a long time since it took me as long to finish a book as this one is taking!
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste Neither Your Time Nor Money 10 Jan 2009
By Cap'n - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
One To Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers

The title, One to Nine The Inner Life of Numbers, suggests a book of note. The book, though, appears to be only a mish mash of information from the author's weekly newspaper column in the Observer on mathematical topics. The author indulges himself with comments regarding politics and society and does not appear to know his audience. His text is arrogant and wanders without direction. That is a pity, because the topic should have been an interesting one. Not only is the book poorly written, the book is also poorly typeset. Word spacing is inconsistent which makes the text difficult to read.

When I completed this book, I had to ask myself why I bothered. I found this to be one of the worst books that I have read in the past 60 years. Waste neither your money nor your time on this book.
Not recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read 20 Nov 2011
By Thomas Tomacci - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the author's quick pace through pure and applied mathematical concepts.

I suspect One to Nine's limited appeal (several poor reviews on Amazon) may stem from the material containing a bit too much applied science for most mathematicians, and too much math theory for someone without a substantial mathematical background. As an engineer by education, I know just enough math to be dangerous and feel very comfortable with the physics, chemistry, or other applied science references in the book.

The friends of mine that have read One to Nine also liked it. I would recommend it to someone with a mathematically based science degree, such as most engineering degrees.
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