Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Haiyan Tian

Committee Chair School

Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Committee Member 2

Dr. Jiu Ding

Committee Member 2 School

Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Committee Member 3

Dr. John Perry

Committee Member 3 School

Mathematics and Natural Sciences


This paper demonstrates that it is possible to use mathematics to study literature as it has been used to study the social sciences. By focusing on mathematically defining economic and literary terms, it can be shown that the underlying mathematical structure behind key concepts in economics and literature are analogous. This opens the possibility of applying economic models in literature. Specifically, it is demonstrated that the economic mathematical model of modern portfolio theory can answer long standing questions around the Roman epic Aeneid by Virgil. The poet died before completing his poem. The relative completeness of the books of the Aeneid are quantitatively determined by applying Markowitz's modern portfolio theory. Modern portfolio theory optimizes the weights of the securities in a portfolio to maximize the expected return and minimize standard deviation in financial models. The literary tradition around the Aeneid records that Virgil's style sought to create a uniform structure while heightening the drama. Thus that optimization for the poet would correspond to the conventional optimization in modern portfolio theory. The extant books can then be compared with the minimum variance portfolio using Capital Asset Price Model (CAPM) and its Beta factor. The books with the Betas further away from 1 are more incomplete.