Instructor: Can Urgun
Description of Course Goals and CurriculumIn the first half of the semester, eco310 is essentially proofs, and preferences and utility. It plays around a lot with microeconomic concepts, such as consumption bundles, consumer utility curves, maximization, and other basic demand and supply concepts. However, it reviews them with a more calculus based spin. That is, a lot of the times instead of just looking at the general trends of the graphs, like we do in base level microeconomics, it delves into the calculus of how the graphs acts in specific situations. Within proofs, it deals with proving theorems and concepts such as convexity, transitivity, etc. The second half of the semester dives into game theory. This is a very different side of the class as it demands high levels of pure logic along with practice and intuition of the various game theory type of problems. Topics in this include finding dominant strategies, Nash Equilibrium, Normal Form Games, Extensive Form Games, and Contract Setting. These concepts are slightly hard to concretize as each problem in game theory is unique and requires a different approach and different kind of logic. That is, no two problems are similar, only use similar concepts that you have to manipulate in different ways. Most people find the second half of the semester a lot more engaging. The goal of this course is to make you familiar with the logic and calculus that can come with economics. It is very practical gives little importance to the theory that other classes have built on. In this way, it can be a lot of fun or really stressful.
Learning From Classroom InstructionThe classroom instruction is very variable depending on the professor teaching the class in that particular semester. This class is notoriously known to always have a new professor teaching every semester, making it very unpredictable. Generally, the lectures are helpful to go to as the concepts that you learn in this class are much better explained orally than through readings. There are also a lot of nuances that you can pick up on for problem solving when you see the instructor doing problems on the board and walk through his thought process with him. Considering that the thought process is one of the most important parts of this class, this can be very helpful. With Urgun as the professor going to lecture can be very useful. Although some of the examples are a bit simple and slow, they help establish the basics needed to complete the problem sets. The lecture notes can be hard to read after wards so following the examples in lecture is more beneficial. The notes on problem solving will help you more than the definitions and basics. Note taking tips:
- Make sure to draw out the problem and write down any rules of the "game". These are rarely listed online. Make it a point to define variables and any notations so you can follow them later
- Bring different color pens to draw graphs so when you over lay different variables you can understand what each means later
- Writing down that transition from the model to the math is key because it will help with problem solving
- Write down any questions you have about why certain graphs where drawn or how certain systems were set up for solving. Most of the problems you solve in class come back in precept or the exam so clarifying early is important.
Learning For and From AssignmentsAssignments are probably the most useful material you get in this class. They are normally laborious and take a long time to figure out, even though they are only graded out of 10 points each normally and aren't worth a very large percentage in your overall grade. Before a midterm or final, however, your assignments are your best bet for practice questions. Thus, it is important to understand them thoroughly and do them another time over when the answers come out. It is recommended to work in groups for the assignments as thinking out loud and checking answers can be really helpful. Assignments to Exams
- The kinds of problems on the HW are almost exactly the same as those on the exam
- It is important not only to have the correct answer but also to understand the reasoning behind each step whether it is drawing a graph or solving a utility problem. This is important because the exams will sometimes include slight variations that you have not seen before. However, understanding the "why" behind each step enables you to easily adjust the problem solving strategy.
- When studying be sure to go back and ask yourself for each problem why am I doing this? Why does this give me my answer? What is the purpose of this line? It seems tedious but can make you very successful in the course
External ResourcesYour best bet for external resources is Piazza and your peers. Piazza is a great place to get questions answered, mainly because you have the answer written down on this platform for later when you forget what exactly the answer was or what exactly your question was. Also, a lot of the times going through other people's Piazza posts will automatically solve your questions! I recommend going through Piazza posts even if you don't have any questions, just for conceptual clarity. If you have just a few lingering doubts, asking your friends is your best bet. For some people, certain concepts just fly over their head and other ones seem to stick. Chances are your peer can tell you what made sense to them, and since you guys have the same background this is more likely to make sense to you too. The textbook is pretty useless for the second half of the course so it can be helpful to look up pdfs and slides explaining game theory topics from other accredited universities. It can help break down the topic and provide extra practice problems if you're someone who learns better from reading.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course SelectionTake this course with people who you know, as talking to your peers during problem sets and when you have doubts is very very helpful. If you do not know people, try and find a group as soon as possible. There is tons of kids in the class so it should not be too hard! Don't worry too much if you find things very difficult, because chances are everybody around you is in the same boat as you are. This is a class in which grading is very much bottom up and not top down. Again, it will help you to realize this if you have friends in the class. Practice the concepts very thoroughly. Turn to online resources if you can't find enough practice or if they lecture notes are confusing you. Most of the game theory concepts are very popular and thus there will be lots of material online if you look hard enough.
Microeconomic Theory: A Mathematical Approach