The Commission on Graduate Education in Economics had raised several concerns regarding the role of mathematics in graduate training in economics (Krueger, 1991; Colander, 1998, 2005). This paper undertakes a detailed scrutiny of the notion of a utility function to motivate and describe the common patterns across mathematical concepts and results that are used by economists. In the process one arrives at a classification of mathematical terms which is used to state mathematical results in economics. The usefulness of the classification scheme is illustrated with the help of a discussion of Arrow's impossibility theorem. Common knowledge of the patterns in mathematical concepts and results could be effective in enhancing communication between students, teachers and researchers specializing in different sub-fields of economics.
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