Econ 300

Methods and Tools of Economic Analysis [SyllabusElms]

Professor Peter Cramton

The methodology of economics employs mathematical and logical tools to model and analyze markets, national economies, and other situations where people make choices. Understanding of many economic issues can be enhanced by careful application of the methodology, and this in turn requires an understanding of the various mathematical and logical techniques. This course reviews concepts and techniques usually covered in algebra, analytical geometry, and the first semester of calculus. It also introduces the components of subsequent calculus and linear algebra courses most relevant to economic analysis. The course emphasizes the reasons economists use mathematical concepts and techniques to model behavior and outcomes.

The course will meet three times a week, twice for lectures and once in discussion section conducted by a teaching assistant. Lectures will demonstrate the power of math to answer economic questions, stressing the reasons economists use math and explaining mathematical logic and techniques. Discussion sections will demonstrate solutions for problems, answer questions about material presented in the lectures or book, and focus on preparing students for exams.

Students should be prepared to devote at least 4 hours per week outside class meetings, primarily working on problem sets as well as reviewing materials and practicing. Students with weak math skills will need to spend additional time mastering techniques.

Course objectives

Each student should be able by the end of the semester to

  • Recognize and use the mathematical terminology and notation typically employed by economists
  • Explain how specific mathematical functions can be used to provide formal methods of describing the linkages between key economic variables
  • Employ the mathematical techniques covered in the course to solve economic problems and predict economic behavior
  • Explain how mathematical concepts enable economists to analyze complicated problems and generate testable hypotheses


Teaching Assistants

Hector Lopez, Tydings 4101D, Office hours Tue 2:30-3:30, Fri 12-1:00
section 2 Fri 9am Tydings 2102
section 3 Fri 10am Tydings 2102
section 5 Fri 11am Tydings 2110

Gloria Chen, Tydings 4128, Office hours Mon 1-2, Fri 11-12
section 1 Fri 9am Tydings 1114
section 4 Fri 10am Tydings 1132
section 6 Fri 12pm Tydings 1108

Academic Achievement Programs Tutor for Econ 300: Ryan Suess

Problems Sets

There are six problem sets. Answers will be posted after the due date at the following links: PS1PS2PS3PS4PS5PS6. If it is after the due date and you still see “Suggested Answers are not yet available.” then press F5 to refresh the page.

Here are some relevant Mathematica Demonstrations of topics in this course.

Class Schedule and Materials

Note well: the schedule may change as a result of snow events and other factors. Please watch your email for notification of such changes, which will then be reflected below once you press F5 to refresh the page.

The “nb” files are Mathematica Notebooks; you will need Mathematica to open these. The “cdf” files are the same as the “nb” files but you only need the free cdf player installed to use these; download here.

Date      Topic 

Jan 28    01 – Mathematical Framework of Economic AnalysisKhan AcademyMath ReviewThe Math Page,  Wolfram TED talk

Jan 30    02 – An Introduction to Functions, [nbcdf], Limits

Feb 4     02 – An Introduction to Functions (continued)

Feb 6     03 – Exponential Functions, [nbcdf], The Mating Game.nb cdf

Feb 7     Problem set 1 due

Feb 11    03 – Logarithmic Functions, Visual Guide to Simple, Compound, and Continuous Interest Rates

Feb 13   04 – Section 1 only – Systems of Equations and Comparative Statics, [nbcdf]

Feb 18   05 – Basics of Differential Calculus, [nbcdf]

Feb 20   05 – Basics of Differential Calculus (continued)

Feb 21   Problem set 2 due

Feb 25   05 – Basics of Differential Calculus (continued)

Feb 27   First Midterm [Review SheetPrior MidtermPrior AnswersW versionW answersT versionT answers]

Mar 4    06 – Univariate Calculus, [nbcdf]

Mar 6    06 – Univariate Calculus – Elasticity

Mar 7  Problem set 3 due

Mar 11   07 – Multivariate Calculus, [nbcdf]

Mar 13  07 – Multivariate Calculus (continued)

Spring Break

Mar 25    08 – Extreme Values of Univariate Functions

Mar 27    09 – Extreme Values of Multivariate Functions, [nbcdf]

Apr 1      09 – Extreme Values of Multivariate Functions (continued)

Apr 3     09 – Extreme Values of Multivariate Functions (continued)

Apr 4     Problem set 4 due

Apr 8     Second Midterm [Review SheetPrior MidtermPrior AnswersW versionW answersT versionT answers ]

Apr 10  10 – Constrained Optimization, [nbcdf]

Apr 15   10 – Constrained Optimization (continued)

Apr 17   10 – Constrained Optimization (continued)

Apr 18   Problem set 5 due

Apr 22     11 – Probability

Apr 24   12 – Decision making under Uncertainty, [Coin Flip Problem.nbcdf]

Apr 29  13 – Risk Theory, [nbcdf]

May 1   14 – Game Theory

May 2   Problem set 6 due

May 6    14 – Game Theory (continued)

May 8   15 – Market Games

May 13  Review

May 15  Final Exam 8:00 am – Marie Mount Hall 1400 [Final Review SheetFinal Review ProblemsAnswers]

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