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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre but delightful popular science
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...
Published on 2 Nov 2008 by Christian Jongeneel

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for the mathematically challenged
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...
Published on 17 Jun 2009 by Dennis Littrell


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre but delightful popular science, 2 Nov 2008
By 
Christian Jongeneel (Rotterdam, Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: One to Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and readable collection of mathematical essays, 12 July 2013
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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 (SoCal) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: One to Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers (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.

But even more off-putting (and this explains some of the negative reviews this book has garnered) is the fact that the book is more than a bit self-indulgent. Hodges's political views are a bit too obvious and gratuitous (although not necessarily disagreeable). He digresses often, sometimes whimsically, sometimes unaccountably. He employs naked jargon, insider allusions, and unexplained references. His subject matter spills over and jumps around from one chapter to other making the "One to Nine" structure seem artificial what with matter pertaining to the number six, for example, appearing in the chapter on the number seven and vice-versa.

I think it's obvious that the sort of book that Hodges has written here must needs another sort of structure, perhaps in three parts, one dealing with encryption, the second with pure number theory, and the third with mathematical physics. He is following to some extent (as he acknowledges) the structure that Constance Reid used so successfully in "From Zero to Infinity" (1956, new edition 2006) in which the chapters were entitled "Zero," "One," "Two,"..."Nine," and then "e" and "Aleph Zero." It's too bad that Hodges didn't emulate Reid's reader friendly prose--and he's a good enough writer to do it--instead of her structure.

Finally I didn't like the fact that the reader has to go to a Website to get the answers to the puzzles!
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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
By 
Harun Mushod (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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One to Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers
One to Nine: The Inner Life of Numbers by Andrew Hodges (Hardcover - 6 Sep 2007)
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