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The Great Economists by Phil Thornton

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Chapter 4

Alfred Marshall – microeconomics arrives

‘(1) Use mathematics as shorthand language, rather than as an engine of inquiry. (2) Keep to them till you have done. (3) Translate into English. (4) Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life. (5) Burn the mathematics. (6) If you can’t succeed in 4, burn 3. This I do often.’

Letter from Alfred Marshall to statistician Arthur Bowley, 1906

Anyone who recoils from economics because of its reputation for complex equations, intricate graphs and unintelligible algebra can probably blame Alfred Marshall. A top-class Cambridge mathematician, Marshall moved over to moral and social sciences early in his career and was determined to apply mathematical rigour to the emerging science ...

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