The Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics

Overview

Mathematics and economics are complementary disciplines. Most branches of modern economics use mathematics and statistics extensively, and some important areas of mathematical research have been motivated by economic problems. Economists and mathematicians have made important contributions to each other's disciplines. Economist Kenneth Arrow, for example, did path-breaking work in the field of mathematical optimization; and in 1994 mathematician John Nash was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for introducing a theory of equilibrium in non-cooperative games that has become central to contemporary economic theory. Haverford's Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics enables students in each of the disciplines not only to gain proficiency in the other, but also to understand the ways in which they are related and complementary.

Students enrolling in the Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics must be majoring in either mathematics or economics. Mathematics majors pursuing the concentration take four economics courses that provide a solid grounding in economic theory, as well as two mathematics electives on topics that have important applications in economics. Economics majors in the concentration take four mathematics courses (all beyond the level of mathematics required for the economics major), and two economics electives that involve significant mathematics.

Economics students with a variety of backgrounds and career interests can benefit from completing the Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics. The mathematics courses required by the concentration are extremely valuable for students interested in pursuing graduate study in economics. A strong mathematical background is also an asset for students going on to business school or public policy school. Completing the concentration is also advantageous to students looking for employment in a wide variety of economics-related jobs requiring quantitative and analytical skills, in government, business and finance.

The Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics also benefits mathematics majors. Many students find mathematics more exciting and meaningful when they see it applied to a discipline they find interesting and concrete. Almost every undergraduate mathematics course covers topics useful in economic applications: optimization techniques in multivariable calculus, quadratic forms in linear algebra, fixed point theorems in topology. In intermediate and advanced courses in economics, mathematics majors can see these how these tools and methods are applied in another discipline.

Associate Professor Richard Ball, Concentration Coordinator for 2006-2007

Requirements

For students majoring in mathematics, the requirements of the concentration consist of six courses:
  1. Three required economics courses:
    • Economics 101 (Introduction to Microeconomics)
    • Economics 102 (Introduction to Macroeconomics)
    • Economics 300 (Intermediate Microeconomics)
  2. One additional elective in economics
  3. Two mathematics electives on topics with significant relevance or applicability to economics. (These courses may be counted toward fulfillment of the mathematics major as well as the mathematical economics area of concentration.)

For students majoring in economics, the requirements of the concentration consist of six courses:
  1. Three required mathematics courses:
    • Math 121 (Multivariable Calculus) or Math 216 (Advanced Calculus)
    • Math 215 (Linear Algebra)
    • Math 317 (Analysis I)
  2. One additional elective in mathematics
  3. Two economics electives involving significant applications of mathematical methods. (These courses may be counted toward fulfillment of the economics major as well as the mathematical economics area of concentration.)

The three electives required for the concentration (parts 2. and 3. of the requirements above) should be chosen in consultation with the concentration coordinator. Examples of mathematics electives that are relevant to economics include Math 204 (Differential Equations), Math 210 (Linear Optimization and Game Theory; cross-listed as Econ 210), Math 218 (Probability), Math 222 (Scientific Computing) and Math 335 (Topology I). Examples of economics electives with significant mathematical content include Econ 210 (Linear Optimization and Game Theory; cross-listed as Math 210), Econ 311 (Theory of Non-Cooperative Games) and Econ 312 (General Equilibrium Theory). The economics and mathematics departments at Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania offer a number of courses that may be used as electives for the concentration.

This page is maintained by lbutler@haverford.edu. It was last updated 4/13/07.