Are there common mathematical structures in economics and physics?
Physics Department, Paderborn University, 33098 Paderborn, Germany
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Received: 8 April 2016
Revised: 15 September 2016
Published online: 22 December 2016
Economics is a field that looks into the future. We may know a few things ahead (ex ante), but most things we only know, afterwards (ex post). How can we work in a field, where much of the important information is missing? Mathematics gives two answers:
1. Probability theory leads to microeconomics: the Lagrange function optimizes utility under constraints of economic terms (like costs). The utility function is the entropy, the logarithm of probability. The optimal result is given by a probability distribution and an integrating factor.
2. Calculus leads to macroeconomics: In economics we have two production factors, capital and labour. This requires two dimensional calculus with exact and not-exact differentials, which represent the “ex ante” and “ex post” terms of economics. An integrating factor turns a not-exact term (like income) into an exact term (entropy, the natural production function). The integrating factor is the same as in microeconomics and turns the not-exact field of economics into an exact physical science.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2016