Mathematics for Economists: An Elementary Survey

Mathematics for Economists: An Elementary Survey

Mathematics for Economists: An Elementary Survey

Mathematics for Economists: An Elementary Survey

Excerpt

The increasing application of mathematics to various branches of economics in the past decade has made it necessary for economists to have an elementary knowledge of mathematics. A large number of articles covering many fields such as economic theory, SYSTEM finance, etc. in, for example, the American Economic Review and the Review of Economics and Statistics use mathematics to varying degrees. Also, the use of elementary mathematics in teaching graduate economic courses and courses such as mathematical economics and econometrics are becoming common.

In teaching mathematical economics and econometrics, I found that students who have had a year of calculus were not quite familiar with the various mathematical techniques economists use. For example, the Lagrange multiplier technique used to explain maximum and minimum problems is usually not covered in an elementary calculus course. Furthermore, to ask the student to have a background in such topics as set theory, differential and difference equations, vectors and matrices, and certain basic concepts of mathematical statistics would require him to take a considerable amount of mathematics at the expense of his main line of interest, economics. And yet when discussing, for example, demand theory in a mathematical economics course most of the above-mentioned topics are necessary, although at an elementary level.

To fill in this gap I experienced in teaching these courses, I selected certain topics from various branches of mathematics that are frequently used and taught a separate course, mathematics for economists. I had found it very difficult to teach mathematical economics and the necessary mathematical techniques at the same time without disrupting the continuity of an economic discussion.

These courses in mathematical economics and econometrics were introductory courses for graduate students, some of whom were planning to major in mathematical economics or econometrics, but many of whom were majoring in other branches such as labor, finance, etc. The mathe-

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