Francis Ysidro Edgeworth

Francis Ysidro Edgeworth FBA (8 February 1845 – 13 February 1926) was an Anglo-Irish philosopher and political economist who made significant contributions to the methods of statistics during the 1880s. From 1891 onward, he was appointed the founding editor of The Economic Journal.

Francis Ysidro Edgeworth
Born8 February 1845
Died13 February 1926 (aged 81)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Alma materTrinity College Dublin
Balliol College, Oxford
AwardsGuy Medal (Gold, 1907)
Scientific career
FieldsPhilosophy, political economist
Francis Edgeworth-signature


Edgeworth was born in Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland. He did not attend school, but was educated by private tutors at the Edgeworthstown estate until he reached the age to enter university. His father, Francis Beaufort Edgeworth, was descended from French Huguenots and "was a restless philosophy student at Cambridge on his way to Germany when he decided to elope with a teenage Catalan refugee Rosa Florentina Eroles he met on the steps of the British Museum. One of the outcomes of their marriage was Ysidro Francis Edgeworth (the name order was reversed later)...."[1] Richard Lovell Edgeworth was his grandfather, and the writer, Maria Edgeworth, was his aunt.

As a student at Trinity College Dublin, and Balliol College, Oxford, Edgeworth studied ancient and modern languages. A voracious autodidact, he studied mathematics and economics only after he had completed university. He qualified as a barrister in London in 1877 but did not practise.[2]

On the basis of his publications in economics and mathematical statistics in the 1880s, Edgeworth was appointed to a chair in economics at King's College London in 1888, and in 1891, he was appointed Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University. In 1891, he was also appointed the founding editor of The Economic Journal. He continued as editor or joint-editor until his death 35 years later.[3]

Edgeworth was a highly influential figure in the development of neo-classical economics. He was the first to apply certain formal mathematical techniques to individual decision making in economics. He developed utility theory, introducing the indifference curve and the famous Edgeworth box, which is now familiar to undergraduate students of microeconomics. He is also known for the Edgeworth conjecture, which states that the core of an economy shrinks to the set of competitive equilibria as the number of agents in the economy gets larger. In statistics, Edgeworth is most prominently remembered by having his name on the Edgeworth series.

His most original and creative book on economics was Mathematical Psychics: An Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences, published in 1881 at the beginning of his long career in the subject. The book was notoriously difficult to read. He frequently referenced literary sources and interspersed the writing with passages in a number of languages, including Latin, French and Ancient Greek. The mathematics was similarly difficult, and a number of his creative applications of mathematics to economic or moral issues were judged as incomprehensible. However, one of the most influential economists of the time, Alfred Marshall, commented in his review of Mathematical Psychics:[4]

This book shows clear signs of genius, and is a promise of great things to come... His readers may sometimes wish that he had kept his work by him a little longer till he had worked it out a little more fully, and obtained that simplicity which comes only through long labour. But taking it as what it claims to be, 'a tentative study', we can only admire its brilliancy, force, and originality.

Edgeworth's close friend, William Stanley Jevons, said of Mathematical Psychics:[5]

Whatever else readers of this book may think about it, they would probably all agree that it is a very remarkable one.... There can be no doubt that in the style of his composition Mr. Edgeworth does not do justice to his matter. His style, if not obscure, is implicit, so that the reader is left to puzzle out every important sentence like an enigma.

The Royal Statistical Society awarded him the Guy Medal in 1907. Edgeworth served as the president of the Royal Statistical Society, 1912–14. In 1928, Arthur Lyon Bowley published a book entitled and devoted to F. Y. Edgeworth's Contributions to Mathematical Statistics.

Contributions to economics

Edgeworth - Papers relating to political economy, 1925 - 5771271
Papers relating to political economy, 1925

In Mathematical Psychics (1881), his most famous and original book, he criticised Jevons's theory of barter exchange, showing that under a system of "recontracting" there will be, in fact, many solutions, an "indeterminacy of contract". Edgeworth's "range of final settlements" was later resurrected by Martin Shubik (1959) as the game-theoretic concept of "the core".[6]

  • Edgeworth's conjecture

As the number of agents in an economy increases, the degree of indeterminacy is reduced. In the limit case of an infinite number of agents (perfect competition), contract becomes fully determinate and identical to the 'equilibrium' of economists. The only way of resolving this indeterminacy of contract would be to appeal to the utilitarian principle of maximising the sum of the utilities of traders over the range of final settlements. Incidentally, it was in this 1881 book that Edgeworth introduced into economics the generalised utility function, U (x, y, z, ...), and drew the first 'indifference curve'.[6]

  • International trade

He was the first one to use offer curves and community indifference curves to illustrate its main propositions, including the "optimal tariff".

  • Taxation paradox

Taxation of a good may actually result in a decrease in price.

He set the utilitarian foundations for highly progressive taxation, arguing that the optimal distribution of taxes should be such that 'the marginal disutility incurred by each taxpayer should be the same' (Edgeworth, 1897).

  • Monopoly pricing

In 1897, in an article on monopoly pricing, Edgeworth criticised Cournot's exact solution to the duopoly problem with quantity adjustments as well as Bertrand's "instantly competitive" result in a duopoly model with price adjustment. At the same time, Edgeworth showed how price competition between two firms with capacity constraints and/or rising marginal cost curves resulted in indeterminacy. This gave rise to the Bertrand–Edgeworth model of oligopoly.

  • Marginal productivity theory

Edgeworth criticised the marginal productivity theory in several articles (1904, 1911), and tried to refine the neo-classical theory of distribution on a more solid basis. Although his work in questions of war finance during World War I was original, they were a bit too theoretical and did not achieve the practical influence he had hoped.

  • Edgeworth's limit theorem

Edgeworth's limit theorem relates to equilibrium of supply and demand in a free market. See Edgeworth's limit theorem.

Though Edgeworth's economic ideas were original and in depth, his contemporaries frequently complained of his manner of expression for lack of clarity. He was prone to verbosity and coining obscure words without providing definition for the reader.[7]



  • F. Y. Edgeworth (1925) Papers relating to political economy 3 vols. Available online at Gallica
  • Mirowski, Philip (1994). Edgeworth on Chance, Economic Hazard, and Statistics. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-8476-7751-1.
  • Charles R. McCann Jr. (ed.) (1966) F.Y. Edgeworth: Writings in Probability, Statistics and Economics, 3 vols. Cheltenham, Glos.: Elgar.
  • F. Y. Edgeworth (2003). Peter Newman (ed.). F.Y. Edgeworth : Mathematical Psychics and Further Papers on Political Economy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-828712-4.

Individual works

  • "Mr. Mathew Arnold on Bishop Butler's Doctrine of Self-Love", 1876, Mind
  • New and Old Methods of Ethics, 1877.
  • "The Hedonical Calculus", 1879, Mind, pp. 394–408
  • Mathematical Psychics: An Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences. Kegan Paul. 1881.
  • "Mr. Leslie Stephen on Utilitarianism", 1882, Mind
  • "The Law of Error", 1883, Phil Mag, pp. 300–309
  • "The Method of Least Squares", 1883, Phil Mag
  • "The Physical Basis of Probability", 1883, Phil Mag
  • "On the Method of Ascertaining a Change in the Value of Gold", 1883, JRSS
  • "Review of Jevons's Investigations", 1884, Academy
  • "The Rationale of Exchange", 1884, JRSS
  • "The Philosophy of Chance", 1884, Mind
  • "On the Reduction of Observations", 1884, Phil Mag, pp. 135–141
  • "A Priori Probabilities", 1884, Phil Mag
  • "Chance and Law", 1884, Hermathena, pp. 154–163
  • "Methods of Statistics", 1885, Jubilee Volume of RSS.
  • "The Calculus of Probabilities Applied to Psychic Research, I & II", 1885, 1886, Proceedings of Society for Psychic Research
  • "On Methods of Ascertaining Variations in the Rate of Births, Deaths and Marriages", 1885, JRSS
  • "Progressive Means", 1886, JRSS
  • "The Law of Error and the Elimination of Chance", 1886 Phil Mag
  • "On the Determination of the Modulus of Errors", 1886, Phil Mag
  • "Problems in Probabilities", 1886, Phil Mag
  • "Review of Sidgwick's Scope and Method", 1886, Academy
  • "Review of Jevons's Journals", 1886, Academy
  • "Four Reports by the committee investigating best method of ascertaining and measuring variations in the monetary standard", 1887, Reports of the BAAS (Parts I & 3; Part 2)
  • "Observations and Statistics: An essay on the theory of errors of observation and the first principles of statistics", 1887, Transactions of Cambridge Society.
  • Metretike, or the method of measuring probability and utility, 1887.
  • "On Observations Relating to Several Quantities", 1887, Hermathena
  • "The Law of Error", 1887, Nature
  • "The Choice of Means", 1887, Phil Mag
  • "On Discordant Observations", 1887, Phil Mag
  • "The Empirical Proof of the Law of Error", 1887, Phil Mag
  • "On a New Method of Reducing Observations Relating to Several Quantities", 1888, Phil Mag
  • "New Methods of Measuring Variation in General Prices, 1888, JRSS
  • "The Statistics of Examinations", 1888, JRSS
  • "The Value of Authority Tested by Experiment", 1888, Mind
  • "Mathematical Theory of Banking", 1888, JRSS
  • "On the Application of Mathematics to Political Economy: Address of the President of Section F of the British Association for the Advancement of Science", 1889, JRSS
  • "The Mathematical Theory of Political Economy: Review of Walras's Elements", 1889, Nature
  • "Review of Wicksteed's Alphabet", 1889, Academy
  • "Review of Bohm-Bawerk's Kapital und Kapitalismus", 1889, Academy
  • "Review of Bertrand's Calcul des Probabilites", 1889, J of Education
  • "Points at which Mathematical Reasoning is Applicable to Political Economy", 1889, Nature
  • "Appreciation of Gold", 1889, QJE
  • "The Element of Chance in Competitive Examinations", 1890, JRSS
  • "Economic Science and Statistics", 1889, Nature
  • "Review of Marshall's Principles", 1890, Nature
  • "Review of Jevons's Pure Logic", 1890, Academy
  • "Review of Walras's Elements", 1890, Academy
  • "Review of Bohm-Bawerk's Capital and Interest", 1890, Academy
  • "La Théorie mathématique de l'offre et de la demande et le côut de production", 1891, Revue d'Economie Politique
  • "Osservazioni sulla teoria matematica dell' economica politica", 1891, GdE (trans. "On the Determinateness of Economic Equilibrium")
  • "Ancora a proposito della teoria del baratto", 1891, GdE
  • "Review of Ricardo's Principles", 1891, J of Education
  • "The British Economic Association", 1891, In: The Economic Journal (EJ), Vol. 1, pp. 1–14 (in Wikisource-logo.svg Wikisource)
  • "Review of Keynes's Scope and Method", 1891, EJ
  • "An Introductory Lecture on Political Economy", 1891, EJ
  • "Review of Sidgwick's Elements of Politics", 1891, EJ
  • "Review of Second Edition of Marshall's Principles", 1891, EJ
  • "Mathematical Investigations in the Theory of Value and Prices," Connecticut Academy, 1892.
  • "Correlated Averages", 1892, Phil Mag
  • "The Law of Error and Correlated Averages", 1892, Phil Mag.
  • "Recent Attempts to Evaluate the Amount of Coin Circulating in a Country", 1892, EJ
  • "Review of Marshall's Economics of Industry", 1892, Nature
  • "Review of Cantillon's Essai", 1892, EJ
  • "Review of Palgrave's Dictionary", 1892, EJ
  • "Review of Bohm-Bawerk's Positive Theory of Capital", 1892, EJ
  • "Review of Smart's Introduction to the Theory of Value", 1892, EJ
  • "Review of Dusing's Das Geschlechtverhaltniss", 1892, EJ
  • "Review of Benson's Capital, Labor and Trade", 1892, EJ
  • "Review of Smart's Women's Wages", 1893
  • "Review of Bonar's Philosophy", 1893, Mind
  • "Review of Walsh's Bimetallism", 1893, EJ
  • "Review of Fisher's Mathematical Investigations", 1893, EJ
  • "Professor Böhm-Bawerk on the Ultimate Standard of Value", 1894, EJ
  • "One More Word on the Ultimate Standard of Value", 1894, EJ
  • "Review of Wiser's Natural Value", 1894, EJ
  • "Theory of International Values: Parts I, II and III", 1894, EJ
  • "Recent Writings on Index Numbers", 1894, EJ
  • "The Measurement of Utility by Money", 1894, EJ
  • "Asymmetric Correlation between Social Phenomenon", 1894, JRSS
  • Entries: "Average", "Census", "Cournot", "Curves", "Demand Curves", Difficulty of Attainment", "Distance in Time", "Error", 1894, in Palgrave, editor, Dictionary of Political Economy, Vol. 1.
  • "Review of the Webbs' History of Trade Unionism", 1894, EJ
  • "Review of Third Edition of Marshall's Principles", 1895, EJ
  • "Mr. Pierson on the Scarcity of Gold", 1895, EJ
  • "Thoughts on Monetary Reform", 1895, EJ
  • "The Stationary State in Japan", 1895, EJ
  • "A Defense of Index-Numbers", 1896, EJ
  • "Statistics on Unprogressive Communities", 1896, JRSS
  • "The Asymmetrical Probability Curve (Abstract)", 1894, Proceedings of the Royal Society
  • "The Asymmetrical Probability Curve", 1896, Phil Mag
  • "The Compound law of Error", 1896, Phil Mag
  • Entries: "Gossen", "Index Numbers", "Intrinsic Value", "Jenkin", "Jennings", "Least Squares" and "Mathematical Method", 1896, in Palgrave, editor, Dictionary of Political Economy, Vol. 2.
  • "Review of Price's Money", 1896, EJ
  • "Review of Nicholson's Strikes and Social Problems", 1896, EJ
  • "Review of Pierson's Leerboek, Vol. 1", 1896, EJ
  • "Review of Pierson's Leerkook, Vol. 2", 1897, EJ
  • "Review of Bastable, Theory of International Trade", 1897, EJ
  • "Review of Grazani's Istituzioni", 1897, EJ
  • "La teoria pura del monopolio", 1897, GdE, (trans."The Pure Theory of Monopoly")
  • "The Pure Theory of Taxation: Parts I, II and III", 1897, EJ
  • "Miscellaneous Applications of the Calculus of Probabilities", Parts 1, 2, 3, 1897, 1898, JRSS
  • "Review of Cournot's Recherches", 1898, EJ
  • "Professor Graziani on the Mathematical Theory of Monopoly", 1898, EJ
  • "Review of Darwin's Bimetallism", 1898, EJ
  • "On the Representation of Statistics by Mathematical Formulae", Part 1 (1898), Parts 2, 3, 4 (1899)
  • "On a Point in the Theory of International Trade", 1899, EJ
  • "Review of Davidson, Bargain Theory of Wages", 1899, EJ
  • "Professor Seligman on the Mathematical Method in Political Economy", 1899, EJ
  • Entries: "Pareto", "Pareto's Law", "Probability", Supply Curve" and "Utility", 1899, in Palgrave, editor, Dictionary of Political Economy, Vol. 3
  • "Answers to Questions by Local Taxation Commission", 1899, Reprint of Royal Commission for Local Taxation
  • "The Incidence of Urban Rates, Parts I, II and III" 1900, EJ
  • "Defence of Mr. Harrison's Calculation of the Rupee Circulation", 1900, EJ
  • "Review of J.B. Clark's Theory of Distribution", 1900, EJ
  • "Review of Smart's Taxation of Land-Values", 1900, EJ
  • "Review of Bastable, Theory of International Trade (3rd edition)", 1897, EJ
  • "Review of Bonar and Hollander, Letters of Ricardo", 1900, EJ
  • "Mr. Walsh on the Measurement of General Exchange Value", 1901, EJ
  • "Disputed Points in the Theory of International Trade", 1901, EJ
  • "Review of Gide's Cooperation", 1902, EJ
  • "Review of Wells's Anticipations", 1902, EJ
  • "Methods of Representing Statistics of Wages and Other Groups Not *"Fulfilling the Normal Law of Error", with A.L. Bowley, 1902, JRSS
  • "The Law of Error", 1902, Encycl Britannica
  • "Review of Cannan's History of Theories of Production", 1903, EJ
  • "Review of Bortkiewicz's Anwendungen and Pareto's Anwendungen", 1903, EJ
  • "Review of Bastable's Public Finance", 1903, EJ
  • "Review of Bastable's Cartels et Trusts", 1903, EJ
  • "Review of Pigou's Riddle of the Tariff", 1904, EJ
  • "Review of Nicholson's Elements", 1904, EJ
  • "Review of Bowley's National Progress", 1904, EJ
  • "Review of Plunkett's Ireland", 1904, EJ
  • "Review of Northon's Loan Credit", 1904, EJ
  • "Review of Graziani's Istituzione", 1904, EJ
  • "Review of Dietzel's Vergeltungzolle", 1904, EJ
  • "Preface", 1904, in J.R. MacDonald, editor, Women in the Printing Trades.
  • "The Theory of Distribution", 1904, QJE
  • "The Law of Error", 1905, Transactions of Cambridge Society
  • "Review of Nicholson's History of English Corn Laws", 1905, EJ
  • "Review of Cunynghame's Geometrical Political Economy", 1905, EJ
  • "Review of Carver's Theory of Distribution", 1905, EJ
  • "Review of Taussig's Present Position", 1905, EJ
  • "Review of Henry Sidgwick: A memoir", 1906, EJ
  • "The Generalised Law of Error, or Law of Great Numbers", 1906, JRSS
  • "Recent Schemes for Rating Urban Land Values", 1906, EJ
  • "On the Representation of Statistical Frequency by a Series", 1907, JRSS
  • "Statistical Observations on Wasps and Bees", 1907, Biometrika
  • "Review of de Foville's Monnaie and Guyot's Science economique", 1907, EJ
  • "Appreciations of Mathematical Theories", Parts I & II (1907), Parts III & IV (1908), EJ
  • "On the Probable Errors of Frequency Constants", I, II & III (1908), Add. (1909), JRSS
  • "Review of Andreades's Lecture on the Census", 1908, EJ
  • "Review of Rea's Free Trade", 1908, EJ
  • "Review of Withers's Meaning of Money", 1909, EJ
  • "Review of Mitchell's Gold Prices", 1909, EJ
  • "Review of Jevons's Investigations", 1909, EJ
  • "Application du calcul des probabilités à la Statistique", 1909, Bulletin de l'Institut international de statistique
  • "On the Use of the Differential Calculus in Economics to Determine Conditions of Maximum Advantage", 1909, Scientia
  • "Applications of Probabilities to Economics, Parts I & II", 1910, EJ.
  • "The Subjective Element in the First Principles of Taxation", 1910, QJE
  • "Review of John Stuart Mill's Principles", 1910, EJ
  • "Review of Colson's Cours", 1910, EJ
  • "Review of J. Maurice Clark's Local Freight Discriminations", 1910, EJ
  • "Review of Hammond's Railway Rate Theories", 1911, EJ
  • "Probability and Expectation", 1911, Encycl Britannica
  • "Monopoly and Differential Prices", 1911, EJ
  • "Contributions to the Theory of Railway Rates", Part I & II (1911), Part III (1912), Part IV (1913), EJ
  • "Review of Moore's Laws of Wages", 1912, EJ
  • "Review of Pigou's Wealth and Welfare", 1913, EJ
  • "On the Use of the Theory of Probabilities in Statistics Relating to Society", 1913, J of RSS
  • "A Variant Proof of the Distribution of Velocities in a Molecular Chaos", 1913, PhilMag
  • "On the Use of Analytical Geometry to Represent Certain Kinds of Statistics", Parts I–V, 1914, J of RSS
  • "Recent Contributions to Mathematical Economics, I & II", 1915, EJ
  • On the Relations of Political Economy to War, 1915.
  • The Cost of War and ways of reducing it suggested by economic theory, 1915.
  • "Economists on War: Review of Sombart, etc.", 1915, EJ
  • "Review of Pigou's Economy and Finance of War", 1916, EJ
  • "Review of Preziosi's La Germania alla Conquista dell' Italia", 1916, EJ
  • "British Incomes and Property", 1916, EJ
  • "On the Mathematical Representation of Statistical Data", Part I (1916), Parts II–IV (1917), J of RSS
  • "Review of Gill's National Power and Prosperity", 1917, EJ
  • "Review of Lehfeldt's Economics in Light of War", 1917, EJ
  • "Some German Economic Writings about the War", 1917, EJ
  • "After-War Problems: Review of Dawson at al.", 1917, EJ
  • "Review of Westergaard's Scope and Methods of Statistics", 1917, JRSS
  • "Review of Anderson's Value of Money", 1918, EJ
  • "Review of Moulton and Phillips on Money and Banking", 1918, EJ
  • "Review of Loria's Economic Causes of War", 1918, EJ
  • "Review of Arias's Principii", 1918, EJ
  • "Review of Smith-Gordon, Rural Reconstruction of Ireland and Russell's National Being", 1918, EJ
  • "On the Value of a Mean as Calculated from a Sample", 1918, EJ
  • "An Astronomer on the Law of Error", 1918, PhilMag
  • Currency and Finance in Time of War, 1918.
  • "The Doctrine of Index-Numbers According to Prof. Wesley Mitchell", 1918, EJ
  • "Psychical Research and Statistical Method", 1919, JRSS
  • "Methods of Graduating Taxes on Income and Capital", 1919, EJ
  • "Review of Cannan's Money", 1919, EJ
  • "Review of Andreades's Historia", 1919, EJ
  • "Review of Lehfeldt's Gold Prices", 1919, EJ
  • A Levy on Capital for the Discharge of the Debt, 1919.
  • "Mathematical Formulae and the National Commission on Income Tax", 1920, EJ
  • "On the Application of Probabilities to the Movement of Gas Molecules", Part I (1920), Part II (1922), Phil Mag
  • "Entomological Statistics", 1920, Metron, pp. 75–80
  • "Review of Gustav Cassel's Theory of Social Economy", 1920, EJ
  • "Review of Bowley's Change in Distribution of National Income", 1920, JRSS
  • "Review of the Webbs' History of Trade Unionism", 1920, EJ
  • "Molecular Statistics", Part I (1921), Part II (1922), JRSS
  • "On the Genesis of the Law of Eror", 1921, PhilMag
  • "The Philosophy of Chance", 1922, Mind
  • "The Mathematical Economics of Professor Amoroso", 1922, EJ
  • "Equal Pay to Men and Women for Equal Work", 1922, EJ
  • "Review of Keynes's Treatise on Probability", 1922, JRSS
  • "Review of Pigou's Political Economy of War", 1922, EJ
  • "Statistics of Examinations", 1923, JRSS
  • "On the Use of Medians for Reducing Observations Relating to Several Quantities", 1923, Phil Mag
  • "Mr. Correa Walsh on the Calculation of Index Numbers", 1923, JRSS
  • "Index Numbers According to Mr. Walsh", 1923, EJ
  • "Women's Wages in Relation to Economic Welfare", 1923, EJ
Also available as: Edgeworth, F.Y. (1995), "Women's Wages in Relation to Economic Welfare", in Humphries, Jane (ed.), Gender and economics, Aldershot, England Brookfield, Vermont, USA: Edward Elgar, pp. 99–112, ISBN 9781852788438.
  • "Review of Marshall's Money, Credit and Commerce", 1923, EJ
  • "Review of The Labour Party's Aim", 1923, EJ
  • "Review of Bowley's Mathematical Groundwork", 1924, EJ
  • "Review of Fisher's Economic Position of the Married Woman", 1924, EJ
  • "Untried Methods of Representing Frequency", 1924, JRSS
  • Papers Relating to Political Economy, 3 volumes, 1925.
  • "The Plurality of Index-Numbers", 1925, EJ
  • "The Element of Probability in Index-Numbers", 1925, JRSS
  • "The Revised Doctrine of Marginal Social Product", 1925, EJ
  • "Review of J.M. Clark's Overhead Costs", 1925, EJ.
  • "mathematical method in political economy," 1926, Palgrave's Dictionary of Political Economy, reprinted in 1987, The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 3.
  • "Mr Rhode's Curve and the Method of Adjustment", 1926, JRSS


  1. ^ Barbe, Lluis (2010), Francis Ysidro Edgeworth: A Portrait With Family and Friends, Edward Elgar Publishing, p. 1, ISBN 9781849803229, His name was actually Ysidro Francis Edgeworth, but his family and friends called him Francis or Frank, and when he started publishing in 1876 he transposed his Christian names.
  2. ^ Barbe (2010), p. 85: "The year 1877 was a productive year for Edgeworth in earning titles. He acquired the degree of Master of Arts from Oxford and was called to the bar by the Inner Temple. This means that he had successfully completed his studies at the professional level. However, by then he had decided not to pursue a legal career."
  3. ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Francis Ysidro Edgeworth", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
  4. ^ "Alfred Marshall (1881) "Review of Edgeworth's Mathematical Psychics"". Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  5. ^ W.S. Jevons's "Review of Mathematical Psychics", 1881 Archived 1 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine at
  6. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 February 2005. Retrieved 9 February 2005.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Stigler, Stephen M. (1978), "Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, Statistician", Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 141 (3): 287–322, doi:10.2307/2344804, JSTOR 2344804. See in particular Section 3, "Edgeworth's Style", pp. 292–293.

External links

Further reading

  • P J FitzPatrick, "Leading British statisticians of the nineteenth century, Journal of the American Statistical Association 55 (1960), 38–70.
  • M G Kendall, "Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, 1845–1926," Biometrika 55 (1968), 269–275.
  • Newman, Peter (1987). "Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro," The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 2, pp. 84–98.
  • _____. (2001). "Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro (1845–1926)," International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, pp. 4170–4175. Abstract.
  • Spiegel, Henry William. The Growth of Economic Thought. Ed. Durham & London. Duke University Press, 1991.
  • Stigler, Stephen M. * (1987). "Edgeworth as statistician," The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 2, pp. 98–98.
Bertrand competition

Bertrand competition is a model of competition used in economics, named after Joseph Louis François Bertrand (1822–1900). It describes interactions among firms (sellers) that set prices and their customers (buyers) that choose quantities at the prices set. The model was formulated in 1883 by Bertrand in a review of Antoine Augustin Cournot's book Recherches sur les Principes Mathématiques de la Théorie des Richesses (1838) in which Cournot had put forward the Cournot model. Cournot argued that when firms choose quantities, the equilibrium outcome involves firms pricing above marginal cost and hence the competitive price. In his review, Bertrand argued that if firms chose prices rather than quantities, then the competitive outcome would occur with price equal to marginal cost. The model was not formalized by Bertrand: however, the idea was developed into a mathematical model by Francis Ysidro Edgeworth in 1889.The model rests on very specific assumptions. There are at least two firms producing a homogeneous (undifferentiated) product and cannot cooperate in any way. Firms compete by setting prices simultaneously and consumers want to buy everything from a firm with a lower price (since the product is homogeneous and there are no consumer search costs). If two firms charge the same price, consumers' demand is split evenly between them. It is simplest to concentrate on the case of duopoly where there are just two firms, although the results hold for any number of firms greater than one.

A crucial assumption about the technology is that both firms have the same constant unit cost of production, so that marginal and average costs are the same and equal to the competitive price. This means that as long as the price it sets is above unit cost, the firm is willing to supply any amount that is demanded (it earns profit on each unit sold). If price is equal to unit cost, then it is indifferent to how much it sells, since it earns no profit. Obviously, the firm will never want to set a price below unit cost, but if it did it would not want to sell anything since it would lose money on each unit sold. In summary, Bertrand competition is often characterized as harsh, cutthroat competition between firms, driving prices down to marginal cost through a series of price undercutting.

Charles Francis Keary

Charles Francis Keary (1848–1917) was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England, and he became a scholar and historian. In his later work as a novelist he also influenced the modernist writer James Joyce. The late nineteenth century English novelist George Gissing read four of Keary's works including three novels in the first thirty-one days of 1896. He found Keary's novel Herbert Vanlennert, "a long, conscientious, uninspired book".Charles was born to a Galway Irish family which had settled in the industrial Midlands borough of Stoke-on-Trent. He was the son of William Keary, who in 1874 would become the first mayor of Stoke-on-Trent.

The young Charles was schooled at Marlborough College and then took his degree at Trinity College, Cambridge. He became fascinated by Scandinavian history and primitive mythology, then a promising new academic field, and wrote a number of scholarly books on such topics. His book The Vikings in Western Christendom (1890) stood as a standard work for many decades. He also became expert on Norway and the Norwegians, and knew many poets and writers there.

Keary worked from 1872 to 1887 at the Department of Coins at The British Museum in London, where he wrote and published A Catalogue Of English Coins In The British Museum: Anglo-Saxon Series (1887) with Herbert Appold Grueber, and contributed scholarly articles on coins to numismatic journals. Keary was awarded the Medal of the Royal Numismatic Society in 1894. During his time at the British Museum he was the best friend of Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, the Anglo-Irish philosopher.

Keary then turned from coins and history to writing ambitious literary novels, influenced by the Russian novelists of the time. These works were rather unusual, using a lack of conventional structure in an attempt to suggest the chaos of reality, allied to close observation and a dispassionate approach to character. His novel Herbert Vanlennart (1896) was based on his tour of India, which he had also written up in the short travel book India: Impressions (1903). His later novel Bloomsbury (1905) drew on his experience of moving amid the "curious neurotic intellectualism" (The Spectator review, 8 April 1905) of London literary circles in the Bloomsbury of the late 1880s and early 1890s. At that time, under the pseudonym H. Ogram Matuce, he had published a radically impressionistic prose work titled The Wanderer: From the papers of the late H. Ogram Matuce (1888). In a Spectator review (4 September 1909, of his later novel The Mount) the reviewer remembered that: "For some of us the publication of Mr. C. F. Keary's The Wanderer over twenty years ago was an event".

Keary tried the then-fashionable form of verse drama, with "The Brothers: a Fairy Masque" (1902) and "Rigel: a Mystery" (1904), and moved with more success into philosophy with his The Pursuit of Reason (Cambridge University Press, 1910). After his untimely death, from a heart attack, one further book appeared: The Posthumous Poems of C. F. Keary (1923). But the unfortunate timing of his death, coming amid the full clamour of World War One, hastened his rapid slide into almost total obscurity.

His collection of short works with weird and horrific elements, Twixt Dog and Wolf (1901), is known to have influenced James Joyce's novel Dubliners (1905) – as evidenced in a letter from Joyce dated 24 September 1905 (Letters of James Joyce, Vol. 2, p. 111). Twixt Dog and Wolf was described by fantasy historian Douglas A. Anderson as containing "literary weird fiction of a high order." Keary also wrote the libretto for the opera Koanga (1904) by the composer Frederick Delius, with whom he had detailed discussions. But the collaboration was short and fraught, and it led to no further work with Delius. (See: John White, "The Literary Sources of the Delius Operas", Delius Society Journal, Summer 2004, pp. 16–18).

Keary's sister was the Staffordshire folklorist and folk-song collector Miss Alice Annie Keary, close friend of the major folklorist Charlotte Sophia Burne. Keary himself travelled in Europe and dabbled there in folk-song collecting, publishing articles such as "Roumanian Peasants and their Songs".

Edgeworth's limit theorem

Edgeworth's limit theorem is an economic theorem created by Francis Ysidro Edgeworth that examines a range of possible outcomes which may result from free market exchange or barter between groups of people. It shows that while the precise location of the final settlement (the ultimate division of goods) between the parties is indeterminate, there is a range of potential outcomes which shrinks as the number of traders increases.

Edgeworth (surname)

Edgeworth is an English toponymic surname. It probably derives from Edgeworth in Gloucestershire, but the name is long established in Ireland, where it is claimed that the family settled in County Longford in 1583.Notable people with the surname include:

Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744–1817), Anglo-Irish scientist, inventor, writer and educator, father of Maria Edgeworth and Michael Pakenham Edgeworth

His son Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (1812–1881), botanist

His daughter Maria Edgeworth (1767–1849), novelist

His grandson Francis Ysidro Edgeworth (1845–1926), statistician and economist

Henry Essex Edgeworth (1745–1807), Irish Catholic priest and confessor of Louis XVI

Kenneth Edgeworth (1880–1972), Irish astronomer, economist and engineerFictional characters:

Miles Edgeworth, character from the Ace Attorney video game series

Edgeworth Professor of Economics

The Edgeworth Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford is named in honour of Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, the Drummond Professor of Political Economy from 1891–1922.

Edgeworth box

In economics, an Edgeworth box, named after Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, is a way of representing various distributions of resources. Edgeworth made his presentation in his book Mathematical Psychics: An Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences, 1881.

Edgeworth's original two-axis depiction was developed into the now familiar box diagram by Pareto in his 1906 book "Manual of Political Economy" and was popularized in a later exposition by Bowley. The modern version of the diagram is commonly referred to as the Edgeworth–Bowley box.The Edgeworth box is used frequently in general equilibrium theory. It can aid in representing the competitive equilibrium of a simple system or a range of such outcomes that satisfy economic efficiency. It can also show the difficulty of moving to an efficient outcome in the presence of bilateral monopoly. In the latter case, it serves as a precursor to the bargaining problem of game theory that allows a unique numerical solution.

Edgeworth conjecture

In economics, the Edgeworth conjecture is the idea, named after Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, that the core of an economy shrinks to the set of Walrasian equilibria as the number of agents increases to infinity.

The core of an economy is a concept from cooperative game theory defined as the set of feasible allocations in an economy that cannot be improved upon by subset of the set of the economy's consumers (a coalition). For general equilibrium economies typically the core is non-empty (there is at least one feasible allocation) but also "large" in the sense that there may be a continuum of feasible allocations that satisfy the requirements. The conjecture basically states that if the number of agents is also "large" then the only allocations in the core are precisely what a competitive market would produce. As such, the conjecture is seen as providing some game-theoretic foundations for the usual assumption in general equilibrium theory of price taking agents. In particular, it means that in a "large" economy people act as if they were price takers, even though theoretically they have all the power to set prices and renegotiate their trades. Hence, the fictitious Walrasian auctioneer of general equilibrium, while strictly speaking completely unrealistic, can be seen as a "short-cut" to getting the right answer.

Edgeworth himself did not quite prove this result—hence the term conjecture rather than theorem—although he did provide most of the necessary intuition and went some way towards it. In the 1960s formal proofs were presented under different assumptions by Debreu and Scarf (1963) as well as Aumann (1964). Both of these results however showed that the conditions sufficient for this result to hold were a bit more stringent than Edgeworth anticipated. Debreu and Scarf considered the case of a "replica economy" where there is a finite number of agent types and the agents added to the economy to make it "large" are of the same type and in the same proportion as those already in it. Aumann's result relied on an existence of a continuum of agents.

These proofs of the Edgeworth conjecture are seen as providing some qualified support for the idea that a large economy functions approximately as a price taking competitive economy of general equilibrium theory, even though agents have the power to set prices.

Edgeworth series

The Gram–Charlier A series (named in honor of Jørgen Pedersen Gram and Carl Charlier), and the Edgeworth series (named in honor of Francis Ysidro Edgeworth) are series that approximate a probability distribution in terms of its cumulants. The series are the same; but, the arrangement of terms (and thus the accuracy of truncating the series) differ. The key idea of these expansions is to write the characteristic function of the distribution whose probability density function f is to be approximated in terms of the characteristic function of a distribution with known and suitable properties, and to recover f through the inverse Fourier transform.


Edgeworthstown or Mostrim (Irish: Meathas Troim, meaning "frontier of the elder tree") is a small town in County Longford, Ireland. The town is in the east of the county, near the border with County Westmeath. Nearby towns are Longford 12 km to the west, Mullingar 26 km to the east, Athlone 40 km to the south and Cavan 42 km to the north.

Fisher information

In mathematical statistics, the Fisher information (sometimes simply called information) is a way of measuring the amount of information that an observable random variable X carries about an unknown parameter θ of a distribution that models X. Formally, it is the variance of the score, or the expected value of the observed information. In Bayesian statistics, the asymptotic distribution of the posterior mode depends on the Fisher information and not on the prior (according to the Bernstein–von Mises theorem, which was anticipated by Laplace for exponential families). The role of the Fisher information in the asymptotic theory of maximum-likelihood estimation was emphasized by the statistician Ronald Fisher (following some initial results by Francis Ysidro Edgeworth). The Fisher information is also used in the calculation of the Jeffreys prior, which is used in Bayesian statistics.

The Fisher-information matrix is used to calculate the covariance matrices associated with maximum-likelihood estimates. It can also be used in the formulation of test statistics, such as the Wald test.

Statistical systems of a scientific nature (physical, biological, etc.) whose likelihood functions obey shift invariance have been shown to obey maximum Fisher information. The level of the maximum depends upon the nature of the system constraints.

Frances Anne Edgeworth

Frances Anne Edgeworth (née Beaufort) (1769–1865), known as Fanny, was an Irish botanical artist and memoirist. She was the stepmother and confidant of the author Maria Edgeworth.

Frank Yates

Frank Yates FRS (12 May 1902 – 17 June 1994) was one of the pioneers of 20th century statistics.

Hector Leak

Hector Leak CBE (23 July 1887 - 5 April 1976) was a British statistician. He was appointed a CBE in 1942. He was also the president of the Royal Statistical Society during a short period in 1941. Awarded the silver Guy Medal in 1940.


Hedonimetry is the study of happiness as a measurable economic asset. The first major work in the field was an 1881 publication of Mathematical Psychics by the famous statistician and economist Francis Ysidro Edgeworth, who hypothesized a way of measuring happiness in units. In recent times, it has been applied to many areas, including consumer behavior and health care.


A hedonometer or hedonimeter is a device used to gauge happiness or pleasure. Conceived of at least as early as 1880, the term was used in 1881 by the economist Francis Ysidro Edgeworth to describe "an ideally perfect instrument, a psychophysical machine, continually registering the height of pleasure experienced by an individual."More recently, it has been used to refer to a tool developed by Peter Dodds and Chris Danforth to gauge the valence of various corpora, including historical State of the Union addresses, song lyrics, and online tweets and blogs. A version of the tool is available at, which they call a sort of "Dow Jones Index of Happiness", and hope will be used by government officials in conjunction with other metrics as a gauge of the population's well-being.

Henry William Macrosty

Henry William Macrosty (1865 – 19 January 1941) was President of the Royal Statistical Society between 1940–41.Macrosty was active in the Fabian Society for many years, writing a proposed bill creating an eight-hour working day in 1893, "The Revival of Agriculture: a proposed policy for Great Britain" in 1905, and several other tracts for the society. From 1895 until 1906, he served on the society's executive.


Organyà is a municipality in the comarca of the Alt Urgell in Catalonia. It is situated on the right bank of the Segre river below the Trespons gorge, and is served by the C-14 road between Ponts and La Seu d'Urgell. There is a monument to the Homilies d'Organyà, a 12th or 13th century collection of sermons which is the oldest literary text in the Catalan language to survive in its entirety, discovered in the town in 1904.

Organyà is the birthplace of Rosa Florentina Eroles (1815-1864), the mother of Francis Ysidro Edgeworth. [1]

The municipality surrounds an exclave of Cabó.

Patrick Craigie

Patrick George Craigie (29 May 1843 – 10 January 1930) was a British agricultural statistician. He was born in Perth and educated at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities. Craigie headed the Statistical, Intelligence, and Educational Branch of the Board of Agriculture from 1890 until his retirement in 1906 and was prominent in the Royal Statistical Society, serving as its President from 1902–1904. In 1908 he was awarded the Society's highest honour, the Guy Medal in Gold, recognising his "extraordinary services to statistical science in connection with the development of agricultural statistics." From 1861 to 1882 Craigie served in the Royal Perth Militia: his military rank served as a title and so in later years he was generally referred to as Major Craigie.

Valerie Isham

Valerie Susan Isham (born 1947) is a British applied probabilist and President of the Royal Statistical Society 2011–12.

Isham's research interests in include point processes, spatial processes, spatio-temporal processes and population processes. She went to Imperial College London (B.Sc., Ph.D.) where she was a student of a prominent statistician David Cox. She has been a professor of probability and statistics at University College London since 1992. She was the president of the Royal Statistical Society for 2011–2012. She was awarded its Guy Medal in Bronze in 1990.

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