Math for Economists

Purpose of Course  showclose

Math for Economists will help you assemble a toolkit of skills and techniques to solve fundamental problems in both macroeconomics and microeconomics.  The material covers both precalculus and calculus concepts and should help you identify the best approach to solving problems.  For example, an economist may be called upon to determine the right mix allocation of capital to a production process.  The tools in this course will help you evaluate the options and select from the best alternatives.  Advanced courses in economics typically utilize mathematical techniques beyond basic calculus; so, gaining practice in fundamental skills can serve as a good basis for further study.  Of note, this course applies precalculus and calculus; this is different from “applied math,” which economists typically use to refer to probability and statistics.

This course begins with a survey of basic optimization tools and then applies them to solve problems over several periods in time.  These optimization tools describe feasible choices and then direct you to the best possible solution.  In essence, they will help you evaluate an economic environment and determine the best course of action.  The role of risk in financial decisions is explored in relation to individual choices and macroeconomic processes.  The equitable distribution of resources is then considered.  In other words, this class will explore whether an optimal solution is indeed also fair to the participants and society.  A specific application, game theory, is presented as one of the major recent advances in economic theory.  The final topic returns to microeconomic problems such as taxes, elasticity, and specific types of supply and demand curves.

The materials included in the course offer a framework that you can use to apply quantitative skills.  You should liberally use Saylor course materials (MA001, MA003, MA005, ECON103/MA101, and MA102) to refresh their general techniques.  This course fits into the major as a bridge between quantitative theory and specific applications to problems in economics.  Completing this course can greatly help students successfully build a toolkit for the intermediate courses, ECON201 and ECON202.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to ECON200: Math for Economists. General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.
Course Designer: Professor Tony Pizur
Primary Resources: This course comprises a range of different free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following:
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned material. All units build on previous units, so it will be important to progress through the course in the order presented. You will also need to complete:
  • Unit 1 Self-Test
  • Unit 2 Self-Test
  • Unit 3 Self-Test
  • Unit 4 Self-Test
  • Unit 5 Self-Test
  • Unit 6 Self-Test
Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the assessments in this course. 

In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again. 
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of approximately 84.25 hours to complete. Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit and assignment. These time advisories should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at the time advisories before beginning this course in order to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit. Then, you can set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you approximately 29 hours to complete. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete Subunit 1.1 (a total of 10.75 hours) on Monday and Tuesday night, Subunit 1.2 (a total of 9.5 hours) on Wednesday and Thursday night, etc.
Tips/Suggestions: It is extremely important that you give each assignment the amount of reading and review necessary to grasp the main points and lines of enquiry.  Also, on completing the assessments, take a moment to consider how the materials you have just studied relate to the topics covered in previous sections of the course.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    be competent in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have completed MA101: Single-Variable Calculus I.  MA103: Multivariable Calculus is strongly recommended, though not required, prior to completion of this course.

Unit Outline show close