Monday, February 10, 2014

Technical Yiddish and Formal Mathematics: Bupkis and Unbelievable Chutzpah, Nonstandard Analysis

My colleague Ed Kleinbard of USC Gould School of Law, referred to the comparatively small amount of money you can raise in taxes from the ultra-rich as Bupkis ("This is what is known in public finance circles as bupkis.") that is, goat droppings, and the Yiddish term for nothing or something quite small.

In an earlier quote, he referred to some of Apple's tax strategy as Unbelievable Chutzpah (“There is a technical term economists like to use for behavior like this, Unbelievable Chutzpah.”), where by locating economic activity in low tax nations, taxes are reduced--actually a very large number of dollars being involved.

Such technical Yiddish has a theoretical structure in mathematics.There is in mathematics a whole theory of very small and very large quantities (as 1/small)--nonstandard analysis. It arose out of mathematical logic, set theory, and what is called model theory. Turns out to be very useful, for talking about infinitesimals, etc, when 4 x epsilon is still epsilon, and for many other mathematical notions.

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