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This is the context:

It seems to be one of the fundamental features of nature that fundamental physical laws are described in terms of mathematical theory of great beauty and power, needing quite a high standard of mathematics for one to understand it. You may wonder: Why is nature constructed along these lines? One can only answer that our present knowledge seems to show that it is so constructed. We simply have to accept it. One could perhaps describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe. Our feeble attempts at mathematics enable us to understand a bit of the universe, and as we proceed to develop higher and higher mathematics we can hope to understand the universe better.

The Evolution of the Physicist's Picture of Nature By Paul Dirac

What is the meaning of "of" in this context? Is it just a simple preposition? Or does it mean "that have"? Or something else? I am not a native speaker so I'm sorry if this question is trivial.

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  • It is the equations used to describe the observed behaviour which have a simplicity and perceived beauty for mathematicians. One analogy is that of a beautiful painting which is constructed from just a few excellent brush strokes. Apr 15 '20 at 18:10
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X in terms of Y means you use Y to explain, define, understand, or justify X.

fundamental physical laws are described in terms of mathematical theory of great beauty and power

This means "mathematical theory of great beauty and power" is being used to describe "fundamental physical laws".

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  • So, in this case, "of" in "mathematical theory of great beauty and power" does not play an important role and it's just a simple preposition. Apr 15 '20 at 18:33

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