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Reasoning via Formal Models in Economics

A Series of Three Afternoon Lecture Sessions by Professor Partha Dasgupta and Professor Eric Maskin
When Apr 29, 2015
from 02:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Where Issac Newton Institute Cambridge
Attendees Registration is open to students, researchers and industry representatives from relevant/related fields.
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It is not uncommonly thought that the purpose of formal, mathematical models in the social sciences (most especially, perhaps, economics) is to forecast the future. Because it is judged that economists are especially bad at such forecasts, there is growing criticism of mathematical modes of thinking in the social sciences in general, and economics in particular. In fact there is a selection bias in the criticism. One common form of forecast is not about the future but about what the data will reveal if one only looks for it. On that score contemporary micro-economics has done well. But there is more than one purpose to mathematical modelling in the social sciences.

Aims and Objectives

This course of lectures will explore the purposes of mathematical modelling in the social sciences and illustrate them with examples from the literature.

Each afternoon session will have a slightly different focus:

Wednesday 29th April - Models as Parables

Sometimes models are so stylised that they can't possibly be used as the basis of empirical work (at least not directly). Nevertheless, they may be useful as a way of thinking coherently - of checking loose intuitions - about complex phenomena.

Wednesday 6th May - Models as Tools

Often, the same conceptual question comes up repeatedly in many different settings, sometimes in different guises. It can then prove useful to develop a modelling concept - a tool - for addressing the question.

Wednesday 13th May - Normative vs. Positive Models

Normative and positive models are usually taken to reflect the "should" and "could" aspects of choice, respectively. But sometimes the distinction isn't so clear.

The audience are likely to be multi disciplinary and include PhD students and Post-Docs, from the social sciences, but also the physical and biological sciences. Attendees from potential user communities, such as industry and the public sector would be encouraged, for example, financial institutions and relevant Government departments.

A mathematical background will be assumed, but because the speakers intend to develop illustrations with the help of canonical examples, not much beyond the level of mathematics reached by students who have completed Part I in the Mathematics Tripos will be required.

Registration and Venue

Registration is open to students, researchers and industry representatives from relevant/related fields. The workshop will take place at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge. Please see the Isaac Newton Institute A-Z for further information about the venue.

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