Advanced Mathematical Economics
Main course materials
Please regularly check that you have the
latest version the lecture notes,
which were last updated at
2:36PM, Friday 19 of June.
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the old and new versions of the notes.
You can read the Assessment Guide and Practice Questions and Sample Solutions.
You can ask questions and get involved in discussions on the course's Piazza page.
You can browse last year's course materials.
- August 11th: If you are interested in taking this course, I recommend you read the preparation guide. You should also consider taking the GRE test soon.
This course teaches some of the important mathematical tools used by economists. More importantly, the course's intensive structure with tutorials every week is designed to train students how to think like mathematicians. Specifically, how to use mathematical notation to write clearly, how to write proofs, how to find counter-examples to conjectures, how to transform complicated problems into simple and elegant problems, and how to think abstractly.
The course is available both to University of Edinburgh students (undergraduate, masters, PhD) and to Continuing Professional Development (Mathematical Economics) students who are not enrolled on any degree.
This course is primarily targeted at students who would like to prepare for post-graduate study in economics. Mathematics is essential for advanced study of economics, and many top MSc and PhD programmes require university-level training in mathematics for admission. In the past, students have also taken this course to prepare for study in other areas including mathematics, cognitive science, computer science, data science, and finance. On the other hand, admissions committees for MBAs and professionally-oriented finance degrees are unlikely to put a high value on this course.
I recommend that students follow the preparation guide which involves watching videos to refresh their high-school mathematics knowledge and learn a bit about logic; this is also a good opportunity to take the GRE test. The course draws on economics examples, so Economics 2 (or equivalent) is also required. Students who have already taken the three first-year undergraduate courses in mathematics (Introduction to Linear Algebra, Calculus and Its Applications, and Proofs and Problem Solving) are already well-prepared for post-graduate study, although might still benefit from this course. Joint honours students with mathematics are welcome to take this class, although I recommend they "spend" their two economics options on courses more focused on social problems.
The main reference is my lecture notes, which I am updating regularly. You can download the Latex source if you want to annotate or contribute improvements to the notes.
Half of every lecture will be on the language of mathematics and metric spaces. The other halves will be on calculus, convex analysis, and dynamic programming.
Some students like an extra reference, although it is unnecessary. A clickable reading list is available with the same books as below, via the library.
Half of every lecture will be on the language of mathematics and metric spaces. The closest book to my notes is Rosenlicht's (1968) "Introduction to Analysis". I recommend that everyone buy a copy of Rosenlicht's book.
For the calculus and convex analysis topics, the closest book to my notes is Boyd and Vandenberghe's (2004) "Convex Optimization". For the dynamic programming topic, the closest book is Stokey and Lucas' (1989) "Recursive Methods in Economic Dynamics".
You might also find these books helpful: Kolmogorov and Fomin's (1970) "Introductory Real Analysis", Angel de la Fuente's (2000) "Mathematical Methods and Models for Economists", and Luenberger's (1969) "Optimization by Vector Space Methods".
A large part of the class is about writing proofs. This is an art in itself, and there are several books about this:
- Daepp and Gorkin's (2011) "Reading, Writing, and Proving: A Closer Look at Mathematics",
- Kane's (2016) "Writing Proofs in Analysis",
- Liebeck's (2015) "A Concise Introduction to Pure Mathematics",
- Oliveira and Stewart's (2015) "Building Proofs: A Practical Guide",
- Robert's (2010) "Introduction to Mathematical Proofs: A Transition",
- Solow's (2005) "How to read and do proofs: an introduction to mathematical thought process",
- Sundstrom's (2013) "Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof" (open access),
- Velleman's (2006) "How to prove it: a structured approach".
The economics topics in my notes are closer to Varian and Kreps than MWG, but quite different from all of them.
MWG means Mas-Colell, Whinston and Green's (1995) "Microeconomic Theory". V means Varian's (1992) "Microeconomic Analysis". K means Kreps' (1990) "A Course in Microeconomic Theory". KK means Kreps' (2013) "Microeconomic Foundations 1: Choice and Competitive Markets". SL means Stokey and Lucas (1989), "Recursive Methods in Economic Dynamics". Debreu (1960) is Topological methods in cardinal utility theory.
- Production Functions See: V1, MWG5, K7.1
- Profit Maximization See: V2, MWG5, K7.2
- Upper Envelopes and Value Functions See: V3, SL4, MWG5, K7.2
- Cost Functions and Dynamic Programming See: V4, SL4, MWG5, K7.3, K.A.2
- Upper Envelopes with Constraints See: V5, SL4, MWG5, K7.3
- Utility Functions See: V7, MWG3, K2.1
- Time Preference See: Debreu (1960), V19, SL4, SL5, MWG20, KK2.5
- Utility Maximization See: V7, MWG3, K2.2
- Consumer’s Value and Policy Functions See: V7, MWG3, K2.2, K2.3
- Expenditure Function and Policy Functions See: V7, MWG3, K2.2, K2.3
- Slutsky Decomposition See: V8, MWG3, K2.3
- Economies See V17, V18, V19, MWG16, K6.1, K6.2
- Efficient Allocations See V17, V18, V19, MWG16, MWG22, K5.2
- Equilibrium See V17, V18, V19, MWG16, K6.1
- Characterising Equilibria See V17, MWG15, MWG16, MWG20, K2.2
- Efficiency of Equilibria See V17, MWG16, K6.3
- *Existence of Equilibria See V17, MWG17, K6.4
- Implementation of Efficient Allocations See V17, MWG16, K6.3
Visiting student project
One-semester visiting students can do an one optional project due in December 20 at 11pm via email; you are welcome to send me drafts for comments.
Examinable TopicsThis will be updated at the end of lectures. In the mean time, you can refer to the examinable topics from last year.
Course quality and improvement
I want this course to be of the highest possible quality, and I value your suggestions for improvement. You can see last year's student survey results. I have planned the following improvements for this year:
- Less jumping between topics, especially with the dynamic programming material.
- More easy questions to help the students get started.
- I am adding more applications of mathematics to economics to the notes.
- I am adding more commentary to the sample solutions (especially when students ask).