There has long been something appealing for economists about the idea that the economy may behave with the same mathematical predictability of scientific laws such as Newton’s laws of motion. Newton’s laws reduce the whole complex, teeming, physical universe to three simple, reliable mathematical relationships. Is it possible to find similar relationships in the complex, changing world of markets?
In 1851, a British professor named Francis Edgeworth published Mathematical Psychics, an early mathematical work on economics. He realized that economics deals with relationships between variables, which means that it can be translated into equations. Edgeworth thought about economic benefits in utilitarian terms. In other words believing that outcomes could be measured in terms of units of happiness, or pleasure.