An onstage talk with Tim Cook on Tuesday incited into a mini-debate about arithmetic that left everybody in a assembly a small bit dumber. Gary Cohn, a boss of Goldman Sachs Group, non-stop a display by rattling off several numbers from Cook’s reign as Apple arch executive officer, including a monster quarter a association only posted. “So far, Apple seems sincerely undeterred by a law of vast numbers,” Cohn said.

The law of vast numbers has come adult frequently in propinquity to Apple this decade—including when Steve Jobs was in assign though generally now that a association has surpassed a market value of $700 billion. Analysts impute to this math speculation to explain since investors should worry about a destiny prospects for Apple and other hulk companies. As a meditative goes, financial expansion starts to delayed for a association that achieves a certain mass of income since it becomes increasingly formidable to find new businesses that pierce a needle.

“We don’t trust in such laws as laws of vast numbers,” Cook pronounced during a Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco. “It’s only arrange of an aged dogma, we think, that was baked adult by somebody. Steve did a lot of things for us over a years, though one of a things he inbred in us: that putting boundary on your meditative are never good. We’re indeed not focused on a numbers. We’re focused on a things that furnish a numbers.”

But here’s a thing: This evidence has zero to do with a law of vast numbers. There’s a genuine math speculation called a law of vast numbers, that explains probability. It means that if we perform a same examination a vast series of times, we should get a predictable outcome. For example, if we keep flipping a silver and recording a results, we should get heads half a time and tails half a time, explains Yuri Lima, a postdoctoral associate in arithmetic during a University of Maryland. He says this wouldn’t generally request to corporate gain unless a formula were truly random. (If that were a case, investors have a lot some-more to worry about.) IPhone sales aren’t pointless since they engage a series of controllable factors, such as Apple’s ability to make them and a decisions of people to buy them.

“Stock-market observers always use this tenure as it relates to Apple, though it unequivocally bothers me and substantially everybody who knows what a law of vast numbers is,” says Zach Shrier, co-founder of a Los Angeles financial advisory organisation Shrier Wealth Management. “It would be a same thing as Tim Cook saying, ‘I don’t trust in sobriety since we consider Apple can keep going higher.’”

Putting aside either Cook and Wall Street’s excellent fell defunct during AP statistics, regard about Apple’s gain expansion attack a runner’s wall has stubborn a association for years. In 2010, Cook explained why there was copiousness of room for Apple to grow, including in a mobile phone marketplace where it trailed Nokia and BlackBerry during a time. “I don’t consider we are attack a law of vast numbers,” Cook pronounced then. “The phone marketplace will increasingly turn a smartphone market.” He gave a identical answer in 2012, when he was asked onstage during a Goldman Sachs tech discussion about how a law of vast numbers will impact Apple’s ability to tip a 37 million iPhones it sole in a 2011 holiday quarter. It sole twice that many final quarter.

There were no questions about a law of vast numbers during Apple’s Jan. 27 gain call. The association has quieted critics, during slightest temporarily, by delivering expansion that caught a Street totally by surprise. Cook mostly has a success of a larger-screen iPhone 6 to thank. The opening stoked analysis, such as “Apple shows a extreme negligence for a law of vast numbers” and “Here’s how Apple gets divided with violation a ‘laws’ of business.” (Jean-Louis Gassée, an attention researcher and former Apple executive, rightly concurred a dual-law materialisation in a blog post on Sunday, “How Many Laws Did Apple Break?“) The genuine law of vast numbers, formulated by Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli in 1713, “has been mostly misunderstood,” says Ohad Feldheim, a postdoctoral math associate during a University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

But a doubt about where long-term expansion will come from is a legitimate one that relates to any vast and aging business. Apple might not be there yet—on average, analysts design a $122 batch cost to strech during slightest $132 in a subsequent year, according to information gathered by Bloomberg—but eventually, each association risks apropos a plant of a possess success. In Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letters, he’s created about a awaiting of expansion negligence as a association gets larger, says Shrier. “Luckily, Buffett has never called it a law of vast numbers, and if he ever does, I’m withdrawal a business.”