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Haverford College
Department of Economics

Mathematical Economics

DescriptionCoordinatorsRequirementsAdditional Remarks

Description

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 work he did in game theory 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 appreciate the ways in which they are related.

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 (beyond the two semesters of calculus required for all economics majors), and two economics electives that emphasize mathematical reasoning.

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 graduate programs in public policy. Many economics-related jobs in government, business and finance require strong quantitative skills, and students interested in seeking such positions are well-served by the concentration.

The Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics can also benefit 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 how these tools and methods are applied in another discipline.

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Coordinators

Associate Professor Richard Ball, Economics Department Representative and Concentration Coordinator
Professor Lynne Butler, Mathematics Department Representative

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Requirements

  1. I. For students majoring in mathematics, the concentration requires six courses:
    1. Three required economics courses:
      1. ECON 105 (Introduction to Economics) or ECON 106 (Introduction to Economics with Calculus). Students who, with permission of the economics department, place out of ECON 105, must replace ECON 105 with an economics elective at the 200-level or above.
      2. ECON 204 (Economic Statistics with Calculus), or an applied statistics course offered by the economics or mathematics department at an equivalent or higher level
      3. ECON 300 (Intermediate Microeconomics)
    2. One additional elective in economics at the 200-level or above.
    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.)
  2. For students majoring in economics, the concentration requires six courses:
    1. Three required mathematics courses:
      1. MATH 121 (Multivariable Calculus) or Math 216 (Advanced Calculus)
      2. MATH 215 (Linear Algebra)
      3. 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.)

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Additional Remarks

Students should consult with the concentration coordinator about the selection of the electives taken for the concentration (parts (B) and (C) of the requirements above).

Some examples of courses that may fulfill part (C) of the requirements for mathematics majors are the following: 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 396 (Mathematical Statistics).

Some examples of courses that may fulfill part (C) of the requirements for economics majors are the following: ECON 210 (Linear Optimization and Game Theory; cross-listed as MATH 210), ECON 237 (Game Theory in Economics), ECON 311 (Theory of Non-Cooperative Games), ECON 312 (General Equilibrium Theory) and ECON 365 (Computational Methods in Macroeconomics and Finance).

The Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics differs from the minors in mathematics and economics is a specific way. The concentration focuses on the complementarities between the two disciplines; the minors in mathematics and economics are designed to provide a basic foundation in each discipline, but not necessarily with an inter-disciplinary orientation.

A student majoring in economics may choose to pursue either the Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics or a minor in mathematics, but not both; and a student majoring in mathematics may choose to pursue either the Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics or a minor in economics, but not both. A student double-majoring in economics and mathematics may not enroll in the Area of Concentration in Mathematical Economics.

 

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