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Suggestion Subforum for quantitative and mathematical economics?

  1. Nov 4, 2016 #1

    Krylov

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    Here I would like to take the opportunity to suggest the addition of a subforum for the purpose of discussing quantitative and mathematical economics. This idea came up after I posted in a few recent topics (1st topic, 2nd topic). I am also partially motivated by QuantEcon, a website pointed out on different occasions by @jedishrfu in connection with Python programming. (QuantEcon has a forum itself in the form of a Google group.)

    Mathematically inclined economists and econometricians often develop and employ interesting techniques in their research. While some of those techniques can also be found inside the physicist's and classical applied mathematician's toolbox, they seem to appear less frequently on PF. For example, one can think of
    • mathematical programming
    • optimal control theory
    • set-valued analysis
    • stochastic calculus
    • regression and testing
    • statistical computation
    but clearly this list is not exhaustive. The subforum may attract new members and provide the opportunity for existing members to become acquainted with new topics related to their established interests. It could live in the "other sciences" category.

    For clarity I would like to stress that I believe it should not become a place for the discussion of subjects of a political, moral or philosophical nature.

    I am interested in hearing opinions of members and staff, old and new.

    Best wishes,

    Krylov.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Usually new subforums are created to serve existing demand.
     
  4. Nov 4, 2016 #3

    Borek

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    +1 to what V50 wrote.

    When you create a new forum just because you think its a great idea, it remains empty (which doesn't make the site look good, not to mention the fact it makes managing a little bit more difficult). When there is a traffic deserving its own forum, it makes sense to create it - but even then it may happen that the subforum will soon die. That's what happened when we moved all photography threads from general discussion to its own forum - people where not going a level deeper to comment on pictures/cameras/tricks/whatever and the number of photography posts went down, despite having its own place.
     
  5. Nov 4, 2016 #4

    Krylov

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    Thank you for your response, Borek.

    As I indicated at the beginning of the OP, I believe there may in fact be interest in such a subforum. (But then again, maybe not. That's not just up to me.) I also think that it could be a good way to increase the flux of quality posts and problems into the mathematics subforums by attracting a new group of interesting and capable members. The latter is perhaps equally important.

    EDIT: Also, I would make a case for putting it at the top level within the "other sciences" category. Certainly it would not be a good idea to nest it within another already existing subforum, for the reasons you already gave.
     
  6. Nov 4, 2016 #5

    Borek

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    That's what I thought in the past too, but my experience (and not only at PF) taught me otherwise. Traffic doesn't come out of nowhere.
     
  7. Nov 4, 2016 #6

    Krylov

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    Ok, since you and the rest of the staff have experience with this, I am certainly willing to believe you are correct.

    It does however not reduce my enthusiasm for (1) attracting more capable students of quantitative and mathematical economics to (2) make the mathematical activity on PF a bit more varied and interesting. (The latter notwithstanding the small amount of good and lively recent mathematics topics that already exist.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
  8. Nov 4, 2016 #7

    jedishrfu

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    I like @Krylov's forum idea as the forum could also push the use of Julia which is an up and coming programming language that competes directly with MATLAB. The QuantEcon folks provide a lot of good stuff related to economics and using Julia in that context.

    I don't know how you might promote the forum though unless, we develop a following by posting insight articles and feature that attract new members. This could be problematic as I don't think there are too many folks here who would have the expertise and an interest in doing that.

    My experience is mostly in using programming to do simulations, none of which is economics related but I can appreciate what numerical economists do. Perhaps the Julia aspect would be enough to attract folks here but I just don't know.

    Perhaps @Greg Bernhardt, @Mark44 and others advisors can comment here too.
     
  9. Nov 5, 2016 #8

    Krylov

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    The high quality of the material offered gave me a pleasant surprise. Code (Julia and Python, am increasingly curious about the former) and theory are well integrated. This is especially apparent from the lecture part of the site, quite a joy to read. At first sight it seems that the forum part (a link to a Google group) could use some improvement.
    From my side there is a potential interest and willingness. It seems I could have some of the mathematical expertise, but close to no economic expertise.

    In a kind private message a fellow forum member also mentioned econophysics. It is my understanding that this field has received mixed responses from established economists. Yet, I think it is good to mention the term here because of its historical and modern ties with physics. The member also provided two links: Tobias Preis on econophysics and the article Modeling the Stock Market prior to large crashes (preprint, EPJ B publication, Google Scholar citations). I leave it is up to him to decide whether he wants to take part in this public discussion.

    In short, I still think that my suggestion has some value and that a subforum on the topic could be viable, but it clearly depends on various factors (in part pointed out by others in previous posts), some of which are beyond my control.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016
  10. Nov 5, 2016 #9
    I would love a subforum like that! There are actually very few economics forums out there - which of course could be because of the lack of demand, but if we were to follow Say's law; supply creates its own demand! So I think this is a great idea.

    We must also not forget the amount of math economics students take in order to get into grad school! As mentioned by @Krylov, historically, physicists have been attracted to economics in large numbers - see for instance the Cowles foundation etc.

    I think this subforum also would be a great place for academic talk - that is discussions about useful courses to take and so on. Of course you could always use the "Academic Guidance" part of the forum - which is great.
     
  11. Nov 5, 2016 #10
    Just posting to say I've read this and will respond later. It's in the 60s now and I have 8 storm windows to sand, prime and paint :biggrin:
     
  12. Nov 5, 2016 #11

    Krylov

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    Good luck with this work and take your time, it is important. For a properly functioning new subforum headquarters need to be in mint condition.
     
  13. Nov 6, 2016 #12

    ZapperZ

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    @Krylov , just so you know, the importance, significance, size, etc. of a discipline does not automatically correlate to it necessarily having a forum dedicated to it. You may argue the importance of it all you want, but I can trump that (no, not him) one better.

    Condensed matter physics is the LARGEST subdivision in most physics societies, and arguably, the largest discipline in physics. Papers being published under this topic DWARFS over all other areas. PRL devotes two sub-section to this discipline. And the APS publishes FOUR PRB journals per month on this topic alone! No other disciplines in physics even come close!

    Yet, condensed matter shares a forum with Atomic and Molecular physics, and Statistical Physics in this forum. It doesn't have anything to do with importance, or size. It has everything to do with traffic and frequency of the topic being asked or discussed in this forum. I see it as being a logistical/organizational nightmare to give every single important topics or disciplines its own forum on here.

    If there is an obvious demand, or a high frequency of a particular topic, the Mentors usually pick up on it. That's how many of the forums were created. So if you want a particular forum for a particular topic, show that (i) there is a demand for it on here and (ii) that there's a sustainable frequency of posting on that topic among the participants of this forum. Arguing that it is an important discipline with lots of this-and-that doesn't quite cut it, because that applies to almost any scientific disciplines on here that also didn't get their own forum.

    Zz.
     
  14. Nov 6, 2016 #13
    Studied economics at university level for one semester before dropping it, it was my favourite subject and indeed, is a very mathematical subject.

    I think it would attract a lot of business and economics students, economics models the real world through mathematics however its models are highly abstract and often devoid of certain aspects of reality, and the debates surrounding them very interesting. Its also a lot of fun with graphs and curves.. I would certainly visit it everyday and a lot of mathematicians would enjoy it for sure.

    If anyone wants to read up about a critique of many basic economic theories one book I recommend is the economics anti textbook.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2016
  15. Nov 6, 2016 #14

    Bystander

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    Check the "post counts" on "yeahs versus nays."
     
  16. Nov 7, 2016 #15

    Krylov

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    I did. For me, there are multiple interesting ways to interpret these, but I will wait a bit before commenting more myself.
     
  17. Nov 7, 2016 #16

    fresh_42

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    This led me back to my first thought about the issue. I occasionally answered to some posts here, which referred to economic mathematics. I felt kind of responsible, since at least I once studied them and thought to have a bit more insight than the average physicist here. (Although I admit that I've forgotten a lot about it.)

    I basically made the following observations:
    1. Unlike mathematics, physics or other natural sciences, economics depends much more on linguistic specialties and terms as well as on local laws, rules and customs. This directly affects ##\\##
    2. our expertise. The capability to answer those questions is the other side of the coin. Posts in this direction usually got answers like: "You probably don't find the experts here, which can answer it better." or similar. Sometimes it is enough to apply some simple algebra, but more often more questions are left open than answers are given. ##\\##
    3. Also the frequency of posts plays a role, which in my opinion is low. Maybe this will be the easiest part to bias, but I'm not quite sure how.##\\##
    4. At last there is the level of potential posts. I think questions on a high mathematical level like those in macroeconomics can easily be posted in the existing mathematical forums, usually in the differential equations or stochastic departments I guess. On the other hand can homework like questions be posted there. ##\\## Which leaves us with the everyday problems in the middle which students of economics face. Unfortunately these are exactly the questions, which my first two arguments apply the most.
     
  18. Nov 7, 2016 #17

    Krylov

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    Valuable criticism, partly in line with what was also written earlier. Thank you @fresh_42.
     
  19. Nov 7, 2016 #18
    Lots of great feedback which pretty much sums up our stance at PF. I have been guilty of trying to generate production of a certain topic by creating a forum a few times and I'm pretty sure each time I removed the forum a month or two later due to low activity. It sounds from @fresh_42 that your questions of mathematical economies can be posted in already existing forums. Please by all means post them. It sounds like there are some members interested. If we start seeing a pattern over time and such topics start a movement then we can seriously consider adding such a forum or modifying another forum to make official room. Thanks!
     
  20. Nov 7, 2016 #19

    mfb

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    That will be heavily biased, users interested in such a subforum are much more likely to contribute here than other users.

    We have "general mathematics", if the topic is about mathematics but does not fit in a subforum. If economics threads start to pile up there then it is an argument to create a dedicated forum.
     
  21. Nov 10, 2016 #20

    Krylov

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    Dear all,

    Thank you for your comments. Of course, it is always nicest to find approval, but I also very much appreciate the criticism. Fortunately most of this criticism was friendly, constructive and clear. In a few cases I found it a bit testy, though I was just posting a suggestion.

    By starting a forum on this topic I had not only hoped to attract traffic and cater for existing (modest, admittedly) demand, but also to give some extra momentum to the technical mathematics (and, possibly, the computer science, see next paragraph) forums. At the same time I do believe that applied mathematics is best discussed in the context of its specific application. For that a dedicated forum would have been nice.

    On a personal level, this thread has served to push me further into exploring Julia as a possible MATLAB alternative. I have to say that so far I am quite delighted. Unlike Python, Julia was designed from the start with numerical application in mind and I think that this is noticeable. As a scripting language, it seems to have done away with some of the more annoying peculiarities of MATLAB. It is interesting to see where it will go.

    Meanwhile, I will keep an eye on activity on PF that could fit within the topic of quantitative / mathematical economics.

    My best wishes,

    Krylov.
     
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