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The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie: The Science and Aesthetics of Tie Knots [Paperback]

Thomas Fink , Yong Mao
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Nov 2001

Two physicists prove that there are not just four ways to tie a tie, but a further eighty-one. ‘The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie’ unravels the history of ties, the story of the discovery of the new knots and some very elegant mathematics in action.

If Einstein had been left alone in Tie Rack for long enough perhaps he would have worked it out : why do people tie their ties in only four ways? And how many other possibilites are there? Two Cambridge University physicists, research fellows working from the Cavendish laboratories, have discovered via a recherche branch of mathematics – knot theory – that although only four knots are traditionally used in tying neck ties another eighty-one exist. This is the story of their discovery, of the history of neck ties and of the equations that express whether a tie is handsome or not. Of the eighty-one new knots, six are practical and elegant. We now have somewhere else to go after the Pratt, the Four-in-Hand, the Full and Half Windsor. Sartorial stylishness is wrapped effortlessly around popular mathematics. A concept developed to describe the movement of gas molecules – the notion of persistent walks around a triangular lattice – also describes the options for tie tying. Pure maths becomes pure fashion in a delightfully designed little package from Fourth Estate.



Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New edition edition (5 Nov 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841155683
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841155685
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 12.8 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘A masterpiece of ludicrous arcana by two Cambridge researchers. It's the best digest of useless knowledge since the World Encyclopedia of Fly Fishing.’ -- John Walsh, Independent

From the Back Cover

If Einstein had been left alone in Tie Rack for long enough perhaps he would have worked it out : why do people tie their ties in only 4 ways? And how many other possibilites are there?

Two Cambridge University physicists, research fellows working from the Cavendish laboratories, have discovered via a recherche branch of mathematics – knot theory – that although only four knots are traditionally used in tying neck ties another 81 exist. This is the story of their discovery, of the history of neck ties and of the equations that express whether a tie is handsome or not.

Of the 81 new knots, 6 are practical and elegant. We now have somewhere else to go after the Pratt, the Four-in-Hand, the Full and Half Windsor. Sartorial stylishness is wrapped effortlessly around popular mathematics. A concept developed to describe the movement of gas molecules – the notion of persistent walks around a triangular lattice – also describes the options for tie tying. Pure maths becomes pure fashion in a delightfully designed little package from Fourth Estate.


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book is really different - probably because it's written by two professors who apply mathematics to the principles of tying a tie, but it makes for a refreshing read. An invaluable resource for the modern day gentleman, this book tells you which knot suits a cutaway collar, etc etc, but it also provides a fascinating insight into the history of the neck tie (and its predecessors.) An excellent Christmas gift for Dad, I give this book 5 stars for entertainment, and value for money.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting read! 15 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Leave it to mathematics to discover new ways to express an art form. As a passionate collector of fine neckwear ( I own several hundred ties ), I was very interested to see what these boys came up with. In addition to the four styles I knew previously, I can now boast four more practical methods of tying my beloved cravates. This is a very good book for anyone who feel as Oscar Wilde did: "One should either wear a work of art or be a work of art". I highly recommend it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
As I recline weekly in velvet smoking jacket and exquisite cravat to dictate The List to my oiled, submissive stenographer, it is often given to me to muse on the science and aesthetics of tie knots. Happily, Messrs Fink and Mao have now systematized the study of this most indispensable of gentlemen's apparel. Our authors are Cambridge physicists, and they have devised a highly ingenious mathematical method of proving exactly how many different ways there are to tie a tie, given certain practical (tie length, volume of knot) and aesthetic (symmetry) constraints. Such an advance in our understanding is the fruit of knot theory, a branch of topology under which we can see that a tie is a random walk on a triangular lattice. This eminently desirable little volume also paints a deft history of the tie, with clear knotting diagrams for each of its sartorial results. A perfect seasonal gift for fathers who would like to enter the new millennium more sprightly of step, and more elegant of neck.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review from Physics World, January 2000 21 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Publishers seem to have hit on a winning formula for non-fiction books in recent years. Take a seemingly estoric subject, mix in lots of history, add plenty of anecdotes, keep it short, and print the book in a nice, compact form with expensive paper and lots of arty pictures. The best-selling Longitude by Dava Sobel led the way, and now her publishers - Fourth Estate - have repeated the magic with this book on the physics of tie knots.
It's a brilliant idea for a book. Thomas Fink and Yong Mao are condensed-matter theorists at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, and their work on tying knots made headlines around the world last year after it was published in Nature (1999, 398, 31). Using ideas from statistical mechanics, they worked out that there are 85 ways to tie a necktie. However, only 13 of these knots were deemed to be aesthetic on the grounds of "symmetry" and "balance". Three of these - the Windsor, the half-Windsor and the four-in-hand - were already widely known, whilst a fourth, dubbed the Nicky, was found to be a simpler version of the unaesthetic "Pratt", which was invented to much acclaim in 1989. This left nine brand new ways to tie a tie.
This book provides a full description of how to tie each of the 85 ties, with glossy pictures of the 13 aesthetic ties. There is a history of tie-wearing - the Duke of Windsor apparently did not invent the Windsor - and a brief discussion of the science of knots. There are also some (rather grainy) pictures of various celebrities wearing ties - Ernest Rutherford, it seems, favoured the four-in-hand.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre but very amusing 7 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is absolutely bonkers but also very funny. I don't know if the authors intended it to be this way but it's a hoot. Perfect stocking filler!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book on tie knots to leave one in stitches 21 Sep 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
What might first appear to be a dry and yawn-inspiring work turns out in fact to be a rare and unusual treat: a carnival of mathematical acrobatics and (to coin a phrase) a "philosophy of style". The authors Fink and Mao pull off admirably this wonderful fusion of knot theory and the history of the humble tie knot, discussing both knots tried and true as well as introducing a few tricks of their own. A fine ornamentation piece for coffee tables and home libraries alike.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to get knotted by Cambridge boffins 23 Sep 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book is a sparkling new account of the history *and* future of tie knots. Having traced the origins of this obscure ornament, this pair of fashion-minded physicists also shape its future, by creating numerous more wierd and wonderful nooses. I could not put it down! I will certainly not content myself with my boring standard knot any more but will startle my colleagues with some of Fink and Mao's confections. Every man should have this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
A well tied tie is a curious but undoubtedly essential part of any man's attire. Nonetheless until now, and despite the kind demonstrations of several associates, I have not been able to reach beyond the bounds of the humble four in hand. What I really needed was a clear set of instructions and better still a smorgasboard of possibilities to choose between as the occasion demanded. Imagine my delight therefore, when this charming book caught my eye last Christmas! Not only was I treated to my heart's desire (as far as the tying of ties is concerned), but a veritable feast of history, mathematics and science to boot. My congratulations to all concerned in the production of this little gem.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Tiny Tome, Big Bucks
First impression: This is a small book! With the prices posted for this little bood, I was under the impression that it would be more substantial. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Russ Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars The 85 Ways To Tie A Tie : The Science And Aesthetics of Tie Knots
Great book, wasn't aware there were 85 different ways to tie a tie. Have gone through the book and tried most of the knots out, really good.
Published 4 months ago by Brian Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic examination of the history, art and science of men's...
A thoroughly enjoyable little tome, with excellent descriptions, diagrams and explanations.

It predates 50 Shades Of Grey, however, so anyone looking for how to use ties... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ann O'Nymus
5.0 out of 5 stars A good gift to a friend.
Bought this for a colleague who loves ties and he's having a blast trying out the different knots that are described here.
Published 9 months ago by Kavita J. Kachiwala
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Book is in great shape. I've learned a lot, but I was expecting some more unique type knots. Still recommend this to any tie enthusiast.
Published 16 months ago by fritz renkert
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you ever wanted to know about ties and more...
I first heard of this book some time ago and had earmarked it for purchase as a gift for one of the men in my life - husband, father, brother... Read more
Published 19 months ago by KateGi
5.0 out of 5 stars superb and thrilling history and theory
The book begins with a history of ties from the reign of Charles II to the present. The next chapter shows a few practical knots and explains knot theory and then applies it to... Read more
Published on 1 Mar 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars more is less
A curiously decadent book. indulgent. Well, then again, I did read it all.
Published on 25 Mar 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative book on ties
The book begins with a a fascinating history of ties and mens dress from the reign of Charles II to the present, with exerpts from Randle Holme in 1688 to Esquire in the 1950s. Read more
Published on 14 Feb 2000
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