New Ideas Conference, Finished

I'm on the committee of the Annual Economics Student's Conference at the New School for Social Research. It was held Thursday, April 20, 2006, and was a great success.

Here's the Conference Website

Download the programme here

Download the poster here.

Here are photos of the conference

Here are some of the presentations:

Dr. Nata Duvurry [.ppt

], Dr. Berk Ozler [.ppt], and Dr. Jose Antonio OCampo [.ppt], all in powerpoint.

It was a great success, and hopefully we'll see more student-run conferences and the workshops

at the New School.

How To Think Like A Computer Scientist

How To Think Like A Computer Scientist:

How To Think Like A Computer Scientist

Learning with C++

by Allen B. Downey

Table of Contents

Contributor List

Chapter 1: The way of the program

Chapter 2: Variables and types

Chapter 3: Function

Chapter 4: Conditionals and recursion

Chapter 5: Fruitful functions

Chapter 6: Iteration

Chapter 7: Strings and things

Chapter 8: Structures

Chapter 9: More structures

Chapter 10: Vectors

Chapter 11: Member functions

Chapter 12: Vectors of Objects

Chapter 13: Objects of Vectors

Chapter 14: Classes and invariants

Chapter 15: Object-oriented programming

Chapter 16: Pointers and References

Chapter 17: Templates

Chapter 18: Linked lists

Chapter 19: Stacks

Chapter 20: Queues and Priority Queues

Chapter 21: Trees

Chapter 22: Heap

Chapter 23: File Input/Output and pmatrices

Appendix A: Quick reference for pclasses


BBC NEWS Britain now 'eating the planet'

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Britain now 'eating the planet':

The UK is about to run out of its own natural resources and become dependent on supplies from abroad, a report says.

A study by the New Economics Foundation (Nef) and the Open University says 16 April is the day when the nation goes into "ecological debt" this year.

It warns if annual global consumption levels matched the UK's, it would take 3.1 Earths to meet the demand.

In 1961, the symbolic "ecological debt day" was 9 July; in 1981, it had shifted forward two months to 14 May.

Author ordering on papers, what a load of bollocks.

...a new paper (free, working version, Winter 06, JEP) demonstrates that these effects have important consequences for careers in economics. Faculty members in top departments with surnames beginning with letters earlier in the alphabet are substantially more likely to be tenured, be fellows of the Econometrics Society, and even win Nobel prizes (let's see, Arrow, Buchanan Coase...hmmm). No such effects are found in psychology where the alphabetical norm is not followed.



New Economist: The Economist: A guide to womenomics: An Economist article on women and the world economy argues that "the future of the world economy lies increasingly in female hands". The piece, A guide to womenomics, claims that:

In rich countries, girls now do better at school than boys, more women are getting university degrees than men are and females are filling most new jobs. Arguably, women are now the most powerful engine of global growth.

The article gives particular attention to the growing role of women at work. The most interesting chart highlights the positive correlation between women's fertility rate and their labour force participation:

It is sometimes argued that it is shortsighted to get more women into paid employment. The more women go out to work, it is said, the fewer children there will be and the lower growth will be in the long run. Yet the facts suggest otherwise. ... Indeed, the decline in fertility has been greatest in several countries where female employment is low.

It seems that if higher female labour participation is supported by the right policies, it need not reduce fertility. ... governments need to remove obstacles that make it hard for women to combine work with having children. This may mean offering parental leave and child care, allowing more flexible working hours, and reforming tax and social-security systems that create disincentives for women to work. Countries in which more women have stayed at home ... offer less support for working mothers...

Magda Fontana: Simulation in Economics

Magda Fontana: Simulation in Economics:

©Copyright JASSS

Magda Fontana (2006)

Simulation in Economics: Evidence on Diffusion and Communication

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation vol. 9, no. 2

Received: 05-Dec-2005 Accepted: 16-Jan-2006 Published: 31-Mar-2006


This paper presents the analysis of a dataset of publications in economics that makes use of simulations. Data are explored in order to obtain information about diffusion of simulation techniques in time and across sub-disciplines. Moreover, following Robert Axelrod's concerns about the difficulties in sharing simulation models and their outputs, some peculiarities in the communication process among 'simulators' are highlighted.


Social Simulation, Economic Theory, User Community


MIT researchers build tiny batteries with viruses---Skynet just 12 months away.

Now I'm no Luddite, but for fuck's sake, did anyone see Terminator? Self replicating electronic viruses? Phillip K Dick? Hello?

Don't say I didn't warn you.


MIT researchers build tiny batteries with viruses:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-- MIT scientists have harnessed the construction talents of tiny viruses to build ultra-small "nanowire" structures for use in very thin lithium-ion batteries.

By manipulating a few genes inside these viruses, the team was able to coax the organisms to grow and self-assemble into a functional electronic device.

Twenty Problems in the Theory of Cellular Automata (1985)

Twenty Problems in the Theory of Cellular Automata (1985):

How common are computational universality and undecidability in cellular automata?

If a system is capable of universal computation, then with appropriate initial conditions, its evolution can carry out any finite computational process. A computationally universal system can thus mimic the behaviour of any other system, and so can in a sense exhibit the most complicated possible behaviour.

Changes in the Distribution of Wealth Between 1989 and 2004

Changes in the Distribution of Wealth Between 1989 and 2004:

Tom Bozzo of Marginal Utility let me know about this Fed report on changes in the distribution of wealth and net worth from 1989 to 2004. Here's the abstract plus several graphs constructed from tables in the report. The first graph shows, for example, that the percentage of net worth held by the bottom half of the distribution was 2.5% (see table 5 in the report):

Currents and Undercurrents: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth, 1989–2004, by Arthur B. Kennickell Senior Economist and Project Director, Survey of Consumer Finances, Federal Reserve Board: Abstract This paper considers changes in the distribution of the wealth of U.S. families over the 1989–2004 period ... Real net worth grew broadly over this period. At the same time, there are indications that wealth became more concentrated, but the result does not hold unambiguously across a set of plausible measures. ... Graphical analysis suggests that there was a shift in favor of the top of the distribution, while for the broad middle of the distribution increases were about in proportion to earlier wealth. Within this period, there are other interesting patterns. For example, from 1992 to 2004 the wealth share of the least wealthy half of the population fell significantly to 2.5 percent of total wealth. ... The paper also presents some information on underlying factors that may explain a part of the distribution of wealth, including capital gains, saving behavior and income, inheritances, and other factors. There are two special topic sections in the paper. The first presents information on the distributions of wealth of African American and Hispanic families. The second presents information on the use of debt across the distribution of wealth.

As a sample of what's in the report, here are some of the tables in graphical form. First, here's a picture of the proportion of total net worth held by net worth percentile groups. This shows, for example, that the percentage of net worth held by people in the 99th-100th percentile group is slightly larger than the percentage held by the 50th-90th percentile group (click on graphs to bring up larger versions):
Next, this is the dollar value of net worth for various percentile groups of the net worth distribution:
Here is the percentage distribution of wealth across income classes. There are two versions, the one in color and one in black and white that shows the changes with better contrast:


Here's a look at the Gini Coefficent:
And finally, the distribution of the age of the family head by wealth (not net worth) group for 1989 and 2004:


The wealthier are older in 2004. There's a lot more in the report, including an analysis of sources in the changes in the wealth and net worth distributions. The paper looks at changes in capital gains, saving behavior, income, inheritances, debt, demographics, and other factors to explain shifts in the wealth and net worth distributions and finds that income, saving behavior, capital gains, and inheritances all play a role in the explanation.

A Clinical and Economic Analysis of Emergency Physician-Performed Ultrasonography in the Setting of Cholecystitis


The aim of this study was to evaluate a group of emergency physicians with Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) certification and fellowship training who utilize their ultrasound diagnosis in routine clinical care. While this level of training is likely to be higher than what should be required of most emergency physicians for routine focused ultrasonography, it is an ideal population to evaluate the potential for emergency physicians with a competency in ultrasound. Cholecystitis was chosen as the ultrasound study to investigate because it is a common disease process that presents emergently, is largely reliant on radiological diagnosis, and benefits from expedient management. In the 25 positive cases where a positive ED ultrasound was performed, a further radiological study followed in 86% of the cases. This study asks the question ‘how much would have been saved if these tests were not performed’?

Continue reading "A Clinical and Economic Analysis of Emergency Physician-Performed Ultrasonography in the Setting of Cholecystitis"

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