Mathematical economics

An intriguing-looking book has just arrived: Finding Equilibrium: Arrow, Debreu, McKenzie and the problem of scientific credit by Till Düppe and Roy Weintraub.

Finding Equilibrium: Arrow, Debreu, McKenzie and the Problem of Scientific Credit

OK, this is a specialist interest, but it’s about the history of the mathematisation of economics via general equilibrium theory from the mid-20th century. The book looks blessedly free of equations too. I did somewhere write a review of Roy Weintraub’s 2002 book, How Economics Became a Mathematical Science and got a rather severe note from him pointing out that I’d made a mistake, so I’m slightly trepidatious about tackling this new one. But the mathematical turn in economics is important to understand. I’m in favour of using mathematical models in economics – indeed, some of the interesting new approaches such as the application if complexity science in macroeconomics would involve more rather than less of it –  but not in favour of only using maths and ignoring institutional and historical detail.

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2 thoughts on “Mathematical economics

  1. [I simply complained that you stated in your review that my father was a mathematician turned economist. The book’s narrative drive was based on the fact that my father knew virtually no mathematics, his brother was a mathematician, and I became a mathematician who turned to economics (cf. Hegel).]

    Apart from that, I’ve a big fan of Diane Coyle’s, and have gotten three other people so far to buy the GDP book!

    • You have a better memory than I do – I just recall being chagrined to have got anything wrong. I’m looking forward to reading ‘Finding Equilibrium’.

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