The class meets on Tuesday and Thursday from 5:00pm to 6:15pm in DM-193.
The most commonly used mathematical methods in economics relate to optimization problems, and this course focuses on methods of optimization.
The first part of the course develops some basic mathematical tools of analysis which we will use to solve optimization problems. This covers roughly parts II and III of the text, and may include excerpts from part VI. The second part (part IV of the text) covers classical, calculus-based methods of optimization—Lagrange multipliers and the Kuhn-Tucker theorem. The methods of Lagrange and Kuhn-Tucker have been invaluable in solving many of the problems you will typically encounter in economics (consumer and producer choice, social welfare max, etc.). The remainder of the course covers more advanced topics from Parts VII and V of the text. These include the issue of whether an optimization problem actually has a solution, and a look at economic dynamics. If time, we will look at dynamic optimization.
- Carl Simon and Lawrence Blume, Mathematics for Economists, W. W. Norton, New York, 1994.
Simon and Blume's book is the main text. I plan to cover Parts II-IV and VII of Simon and Blume, with some excerpts from Part VI. Time permitting, we will then turn our attention to Part V and dynamic models.
You may find this handout on basic optimization helpful: Constrained Optimization Survival Guide.
Office Hours and Contact Info
If you have questions, you may ask immediately after class, or come to my office. Regular office hours are 12:45-1:45pm and 3:30-4:15pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I will be happy to make an appointment for another time if that is more convenient. My office is DM-311A, my phone number is 348-3287, and my email is <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Exams and Homework
Grades will be based on two in-class midterm exams (worth 25% each), a final exam (40%), and homework assignments (10%). In addition to being announced in class, homework assignments will be posted below.
Homework Assignments and Answers
Assignments will appear here. Answers will be posted sometime after the homework is collected.
There will be two in-class midterm exams, each worth 25% of your grade, and a final, worth 40% of your grade.
- The first midterm is tentatively scheduled for Tuessday, September 25 in DM-193.
- The second midterm is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, October 30 in DM-193.
- The final will be at the officially scheduled time: 5-7pm, Tuesday, December 4 in DM-193.
Here are some previous midterm exams from this course. Note that some questions may not be relevant as the material covered has changed over the years.
- Exam 1
- Exam 2
Tentative Course Outline
Subject to change, as happened last year due to Hurricane Irma.
|Aug. 21||6: Intro to Linear Algebra (and use in Economics)|
|Aug. 21, 23||7: Linear Systems|
|Aug. 28||8: Matrix Algebra|
|Aug. 30||9: Determinants & some of 26: Determinants|
|Sept. 4||10: Euclidean Spaces I|
|Sept. 6||10: Euclidean Spaces I|
|Sept. 11||11: Linear Independence, Bases (see also Chap. 27)|
|Sept. 13||12: Limits and Open Sets|
|Sept. 18, 20||29: Limits and Compact Sets + Completeness|
|Sept. 25||Exam #1 — through Chapter 12 + part of 26 and 27|
|Sept. 27||13: Functions of Several Variables|
|Oct. 2||14: Calculus of Several Variables |
30.1: Weierstrass Theorem
|Oct. 4||29.3: Connected Sets|
30.1 Intermediate Value Theorem
|Oct. 9||15: Implicit Functions and their Derivatives|
|Oct. 11||16: Quadratic Forms and Definite Matrices|
|Oct. 16||17: Unconstrained Optimization|
|Oct. 18||30.2-3: Mean Value & Taylor's Theorems|
18: Constrained Optimization I: First-order Conditions
|Oct. 23||18: Constrained Optimization I: First-order Conditions|
|Oct. 25||19: Constrained Optimization II: Multipliers and Second-order Conditions|
|Oct. 30||Exam #2 — Chapters 13-18, 29 & 30|
|Nov. 1||20: Homogeneous and Homothetic Functions|
|Nov. 6||21: Concave and Quasiconcave Functions|
|Nov. 8, 13||23: Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors|
|Nov. 15||23: Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors, Complex Solutions|
|Nov. 20||24: Ordinary Differential Equations: Scalar Equations|
|Nov. 22||Thanksgiving Holiday (no class)|
|Nov. 27||25: Ordinary Differential Equations: Systems of Equations|
|Nov. 29||Introduction to Control Theory|
|Dec. 4||Final Exam: 5-7 pm in DM-193|