Ilker Aslantepe is a research assistant and a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at the New School for Social Research. He also currently teaches Economics courses at the Liberal Studies at New York University and Brooklyn College. He is primarily interested in the complex, adaptive, and self-organizing character of free market economies in the works of classical political economists such as A. Smith, D. Ricardo, and K. Marx where ‘antagonism’ and ‘conflict’ appear to be one of the most important defining characteristics of the interactions among economic agents. His current works focus on the algorithmic foundations of economic theory and investigate combinatorial aspects of non-convex economies in which the notions of division of labor, specialization, increasing returns, and money are of central importance. He also has a keen interest in nonlinear, endogenous theories of business cycles.
Computational Essay: Robinson Crusoe and the Secret of Consumer Preferences
The project employs the Wolfram Language to create a complete set of teaching materials for an economics textbook, Microeconomics in Context by Neva Goodwin et al. It also aims to capitalize on the incomparable advantage provided by the Wolfram Language to do real-time data analysis in teaching economics and to show the unique ways the Wolfram Language provides for statistical data analysis, from getting and exploring data to building high-quality models and dynamic presentations. The motivation behind this project is that the Wolfram Language has incomparable ability and effectiveness in helping students concentrate on the conceptual steps necessary to understand the underlying principles behind the economic models in question. At the current stage, conversion of all the figures and concepts presented in the textbook into dynamic simulations and demonstrations using Wolfram Notebooks and slideshows has been successfully completed for the first 12 chapters of the textbook. They are in a format in which the teaching material can be easily understood and used by students and by any instructors of economics with very little knowledge of Mathematica. These chapters have also been enriched with additional examples and models showing the unparalleled capabilities the Wolfram Language has in creating and manipulating models symbolically and in obtaining data and connecting to databases as well as in computing and visualizing statistical quantities.
Summary of Results
- Developed the work initiated prior to the Wolfram Summer School and improved models and simulations created prior to the Wolfram Summer School
- Created additional materials for the textbook
- Prepared widely used datasets to submit to the Wolfram Data Repository
- Integrated Wolfram Language data analysis into the current teaching material
The most immediate step to take at the current stage of the project is to complete the remaining part of the project in the next month and produce and publish the entire teaching material, including lecture slides for each chapter at the publisher’s website as an alternative to their current teaching materials. In the long run, this project aims to kindle interest in creating a new, updated edition of a textbook using Wolfram technologies. I strongly believe that this will be a very valuable contribution to the economics profession as there is no book currently that introduces economics to students with computational thinking and tools. I also believe that the project will be a valuable contribution to the success of students in economics who are underrepresented minorities and have a great desire to learn and have access to Wolfram technologies at their home institutions but oftentimes lack the academic preparation to be successful in technical college-level courses.