One bag of apples, one apple, one slice of apple — which of these is one unit? Explore the basic unit of math (explained by a trip to the grocery store!) and discover the many meanings of one.
— Lesson by Christopher Danielson, animation by TED-Ed
A unit ~ a definition of one
(cf. One is one … or is it? — TED-Ed)
— Me@2017-02-13 8:48 AM
One is not a number, in the following sense:
Primality of one
Most early Greeks did not even consider 1 to be a number, so they could not consider it to be a prime. By the Middle Ages and Renaissance many mathematicians included 1 as the first prime number. In the mid-18th century Christian Goldbach listed 1 as the first prime in his famous correspondence with Leonhard Euler; however, Euler himself did not consider 1 to be a prime number. In the 19th century many mathematicians still considered the number 1 to be a prime. For example, Derrick Norman Lehmer’s list of primes up to 10,006,721, reprinted as late as 1956, started with 1 as its first prime. Henri Lebesgue is said to be the last professional mathematician to call 1 prime. By the early 20th century, mathematicians began to arrive at the consensus that 1 is not a prime number, but rather forms its own special category as a “unit”.
A large body of mathematical work would still be valid when calling 1 a prime, but Euclid’s fundamental theorem of arithmetic (mentioned above) would not hold as stated. For example, the number 15 can be factored as 3 · 5 and 1 · 3 · 5; if 1 were admitted as a prime, these two presentations would be considered different factorizations of 15 into prime numbers, so the statement of that theorem would have to be modified. Similarly, the sieve of Eratosthenes would not work correctly if 1 were considered a prime: a modified version of the sieve that considers 1 as prime would eliminate all multiples of 1 (that is, all other numbers) and produce as output only the single number 1. Furthermore, the prime numbers have several properties that the number 1 lacks, such as the relationship of the number to its corresponding value of Euler’s totient function or the sum of divisors function.
— Wikipedia on Prime number
As long as something exists, it is possible to define one.
One as the basis for counting (number); one itself is not a number, in the sense that one is for existence, not for counting.
When counting, we have to know count with respect to what. That “what” is a “unit”, aka one.
That is why
x times 1 = x
— Me@2017-02-13 8:48 AM
there are 2 units of apple == there are 2 apples
— Me@2021-08-22 07:13:46 AM
2 units = 2
— Me@2021-08-22 10:27:52 AM
You define one in a context.
But you cannot define two without defining one.
— Me@2017-02-14 07:10:51 AM
You define a unit in a context.
But you cannot define a number without defining a unit.
— Me@2021-08-21 10:08:58 PM
2017.03.26 Sunday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK