Numerology is 'The study of the occult meanings of numbers and of their supposed influence on human fate' ('Reader's Digest Universal Dictionary'). The study of numbers and their effects on our daily lives dates back countless centuries when our ancestors believed that every number - from one to nine - has a meaning all of its own and each has a particular influence of one kind or another.

They also believed - so do today's exponents - that each person has his own special number, usually based on the day, month and year of their birth. Another discovery of our ancient ancestors was that letters also have corresponding values in numbers, indicating that names too can be transformed into lucky numbers. Numerologists tell us we should use special numbers belonging to family and friends in our lottery entries, and anywhere else we can.

Numbers Based on Date of Birth

These are based on the day, month and year of a person's birth. As an example, take someone born on 6th May, 1950.

This can be displayed in numerical form, thus:

6 5 1950

Numbers are totaled like this:

6 + 5 + 1 + 9 + 5 + 0 = 26

Two or more digits are always reduced to one, in this case by adding 2 and 6, making our subject's special number 8. Numbers derived this way are sometimes called 'soul' numbers.

Soul numbers can also be used to determine which month or which day of the month is likely to be good for you to buy your tickets. For our example, August should be a lucky month, and the 8th of any month should be very lucky, the 8th of August, especially.

Birthday number theorists suggest making your selection based on other elements of your date of birth, namely date, month and year, in this case: 6, 5, 19 and 50 (where any number, like 50, is too high, the digits can be added together 5 + 0 = 5). Arguably, our subject might like to avoid number 19 since most lottery enthusiasts were born this century and the selection will be shared by many. As an example of the birthday theory in practice, consider Augustin Jombo, a major winner in the New York state lottery. Jombo was born in April 1951. His lottery selection was derived from 4 (April), 5 and 1 ('51). These were combined in various ways giving: 6, 14, 15, 41, 45, 51 and $26,000,000!

Lucky Numbers

Some, mostly low numbers, are more popular with punters than others, explaining why sometimes the jackpot is shared by several winners and sometimes it goes unclaimed. The same goes for the football pools, apparently. According to Littlewoods, if you plan a jackpot win all to yourself you should go for numbers at the bottom end of the coupon. Low numbers, is seems, are entered by many punters, usually because they are numbers traditionally associated with good fortune (3, 5, 7, 9 and 21, sometimes 13); birthdays (1 - 31); month of birth (1 - 12); house numbers (most roads are short); pets' and children's ages. So, although choosing high numbers doesn't guarantee a jackpot win, it does mean you are less likely to share your winnings.

Lottery Sum Totals

Another reason for selecting high numbers in the lottery is based on the theory that your six numbers should total between 135 and 185. According to researchers, the majority of winning totals in past lotteries fall within this range. In 'The National Lottery Book', Sam Weren is more specific, saying: "If you are playing a lottery in which you must choose your six numbers from 49, simply divide 49 by two and multiply by six. Half 49 is 241/2 and six times 241/2 is 147. So, so as a rule of thumb, your numbers should add up to 147." Others are even more explicit, to the extent of compiling new statistics at the end of every draw and creating a 'Sum Total Analysis'. To begin with all six numbers drawn each week are added together and used to predict totals for future draws.

The sum total of six numbers from 1 to 49 will always fall in the range 21 (Lowest possible combination: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6) to 279 (Highest possible combination: 44 + 45 + 46 + 47 + 48 + 49).

A chart called a Bell Curve Analysis can be compiled from your findings. Totals are entered individually on a chart and will, over time, indicate which are most frequent.

Statistically, if you use a computer to predict the totals of all possible combinations of 6 from 49 numbers, the curve will be perfectly symmetrical, like a bell.

Frequency Analysis

The law of averages says each number has an equal chance of being selected. So over a number of games, the frequency with which one number is drawn should equal every other. Odd and even numbers should balance out, as should high and low numbers. Despite this, some numbers do seem more prone to appear than others and this is where careful analysis can be profitable. A simple chart can be compiled of numbers in the lottery against the frequency with which they appear, making it easier to distinguish hot from cold numbers.