An outcropping of jargon occurred while my back was turned, and frequent commenter Noetica has called my attention to it in this thread:
I have been trying to sort it out for several years, now. All OED has for modulo is this:
With respect to a modulus of. Also attrib., = modular.
What does it mean though, exactly, in the sentence above? From the Wikipedia article, after its mention of the first meaning in mathematics:
Ever since however, “modulo” has gained many meanings, some exact and some imprecise.
Tell me about it!
What he doesn’t know is that the OED entry was revised in March 2003, and after the literal definition he quotes there is now the following:
b. In extended use. (a) With respect to an equivalence defined by (some feature), disregarding differences indicated by (some unimportant feature); (b) taking into account (a particular consideration, aspect, assumption, etc.).
1953 W. AMBROSE Let. in S. Nasar Beautiful Mind (1998) xx. 155 [John Nash] proceeded to announce that he had solved it, module [sic] details. 1960 Jrnl. Philos. 59 776 Which we choose is entirely arbitrary, but (modulo the assumption that any run covers a line segment) it determines how we answer the question [etc.]. 1973 C. C. CHANG & H. J. KEISLER Model Theory 7 The language is determined uniquely, modulo the connectives, by the sentence symbols. 1992 Stud. Eng. Lit.: Eng. Number (Tokyo) 161 The Navajo underlying structure is identical, modulo word order, to the one found in all the languages studied in Ch. 3.
Anyone who wants more examples can visit Noetica’s comment in the thread I linked above; he cites a passel of ’em. My initial reaction was that I didn’t like it: what’s wrong with “with respect to” or “taking into account”? Of course modulo is shorter and I can see how it would be convenient, but it still strikes me as one of those bits of verbiage that serve mainly to show that you’re one of the gang.
I was curious about the “etc.” in the second citation—I wondered how long that sentence ran in its original setting. So I googled it, and thanks to the wonders of JSTOR I found it: “…the question ‘Given that he disappeared at 1, did he occupy 1?'” This was a pretty disappointing payoff for the effort of trawling through a 20-page philosophy article that made my eyes glaze over so thoroughly that I missed the quote the first time through and only caught it on the reverse journey (yes, I was an idiot for not thinking of looking on p. 776, where the OED said it would be), but I now have the following burning question: why does the OED cite this as Jrnl. Philos. 1960 when 1) it’s from an article with an author and title (Paul Benacerraf, “Tasks, Super-Tasks, and the Modern Eleatics”) and 2) Vol. 59, No. 24 of The Journal of Philosophy is from November 1962?