Via Keerthi Madapusi Pera’s Google+ feed, this from the Economist: people outside math are discovering the joy of the word “modulo.”

Via Keerthi Madapusi Pera’s Google+ feed, this from the Economist: people outside math are discovering the joy of the word “modulo.”

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Let me guess: usage of this new word has made a quantum leap and is now growing exponentially?

Neat. I too noticed “modulo” appearing on occasion outside technical mathematics writing (usually as a sophisticated equivalent of (one sense of) good old “up to”), but didn’t think about its part of speech.

I also remember being pleasantly surprised to run across MODULO in the New York Times crossword, clued as “Frequently abbreviated math term”; I see that this was almost ten years ago, and the word has yet to appear again. (MOD has appeared 40 times since 1994, but never yet as the mathematical abbreviation.)

Ha. Discussion of ‘modulo’ on a language blog is what brought me here so many years ago. Does that mean it’s time for me to bow out now?

Let’s hope! I used it in a philosophy journal article and had a referee respond entirely confused about this newfangled word I apparently made up. I believe I edited it back out; I can’t find it by searching my work.

And contra NDE, I wouldn’t think of it as “up to,” but more like a fancy version of “given,” or, perhaps more precisely “holding fixed some particular account of.” That’s why “modulo” makes sense as a pseudo-synonym — saying “some proposition P is true (modulo conditions C)” is, in a handwavy-enough way, like saying “P and the real world are congruent mod conditions C.”