Million Dollar Maths by Hugh Barker

no title has been provided for this book
Published: 1 November 2018
About the Author: Hugh Barker is a non-fiction author and editor; as the latter he has edited several successful popular maths books, including A Slice of Pi. He is the author of Million Dollar Maths (Atlantic Books, October 2018) and High Tech Maths (Atlantic, 2019-20). Hugh is a keen amateur mathematician, and was accepted to study maths at Cambridge University aged 16.

Growing up, my father would occasionally say “If you don’t know the rules of mathematics, you don’t know the rules of life!”-  this book attests to that. Hugh Barker uses mathematics to bring awareness to the loopholes of navigating through life, business and wealth creation.

The book starts off with a cunning introduction where Barker says “like it or not, we live in a material world, in which money can help to create opportunities in life”. He dismisses the self-help dream of rapid wealth with little effort and explores the many connections between maths and finance and the opportunities this creates for significant moneymaking. The book includes stories of famous investors, business people and gamblers who have used mathematical formulae or techniques in their work.

But first, Barker starts by reminding us of basic mathematics that we learned in school and for various reasons we were obscure on harnessing its application in the real world as adults.  In chapter one, “The power of exponential growth”, he simplifies algebra, the essence of money, demand and supply, the rule of 72 and exponential growth. Basically his “back to classroom” topics are to drive a point that, unless you can find some magic beans, you will need to learn how to manage risk and uncertainty, and how to make reasonable predictions of future value.

Chapter two “Beating the Casino” is a sneak peak to what’s still to come in chapter five “Hacking, Cracking and Gaming the System”. Here, Barker claims that using gambling to explore the basic uses of maths in assessing risk and opportunity will give us a solid foundation for looking at how maths can help a person to make better decisions about what to do with your money in general. Therefore analyzing luck and probability as well as understanding rational fallacies that afflict gamblers. As a disclaimer, the book is not about gambling but the rationality and mathematics thereof.

The penny drops in chapter five “Hacking, Cracking and Gaming the System”, because that’s when the jargon and theories come to fruition. We learn of Ed Thorp, a mathematics professor, gambler and founder of the world’s first quant hedge fund. I was left in awe, fascinated and inspired by him; I even went to get his books “Beat the Dealer” and Beat the Market. Barker drives the point that the advantage of a mathematical brain is that it is trained to look for genuine patterns, and tends to be fairly patient and persistent, and this precision is what results in success.

I must admit, I didn’t like the anticlimax that follows just after he just opened my eyes to endless loopholes in the system, as if he is only cautioning me as a disclaimer. However I did enjoy this book as it is beautifully written as well as straight to the point, and it attests that the most important thing from a mathematical point of view is to understand application. Having an edge in any environment relies on spotting a mathematical anomaly or recognizing a pattern that other people may have missed.

The essence of the book is managing to identify a weakness in any system and taking action, hence I enjoyed it. I recommend it to all geeks (like me) who have always been fascinated with solving problems, as well as using their innate or acquired geniuses to create a better life for themselves. This book is for people who are willing to think out of the box to shape the future.

The book is available on Amazon

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