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UniversitÓ degli Studi di Trento

CEEL Summer school First summer school

First Trento Summer School

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CEEL program in Adaptive Economic Dynamics
25 September - 6 October 2000
First Trento Summer School
Intensive course in
Computable Economics

Program Director: Axel Leijonhufvud
Director of the School: K. Vela Velupillai
Guest Lecturers: Daniel Heymann, Scott Kelso & Francesco Luna

The course consists of 3 hours of formal lectures per day for two weeks, supplemented by tutorials and laboratory instructions in the use of SWARM and Mathematica for the computable modelling of economic processes, agents and institutions.

This is the first of a series of intensive courses to be offered by the Computable and Experimental Economics Laboratory (CEEL).

Five future courses are planned in:

  • Experimental Economics (2001) - Lecturer: Professor Dan Friedman, University of California at Santa Cruz.
  • Adaptive Economic Processes (2002) - Lecturer: Professor Peter Howitt, Brown University.
  • Evolutionary Economic Dynamics (2003).
  • Behavioural Economics (2004).
  • Institutional Economics (2005).


Intensive Course in Computable Economics
(25 September-6 October 2000)

Lectures on Computable Economics (30 hours)
by Prof. K. Velupillai
Summary of the Course

The main aim of the course is to introduce the novice to the concepts, techniques and methods of computable economics(*). The lectures will emphasise formalizing standard economic concepts using computability assumptions and investigating the consequences rigorously. The introduction of computability - or recursion theoretic - assumptions in economic entities requires alternative techniques of proof and calls forth non-traditional methods of decisions by agents, in institutions and for processes. It also suggests a reinterpretation of the conceptual basis of the role of information in individual decision making, which will entail some emphasis on induction and inductive methods in economic theory. As a consequence learning problems will be formalized as induction problems.

The main theoretical applications will be to finitely repeated games of a special class, rationality, learning, production, decentralization and dynamics. The novice will be introduced to the art of introducing computability assumptions and the science of devising recursion theoretic proofs. Where possible comparisons and contrasts will be made with the mathematical formalisms and techniques of standard economic theory. Thus, for example, instead of emphasising equilibrium existence proofs using non-constructive methods, in computable economics an attempt is made to highlight the nature of the processes that may lead to equilibrium configurations.

The formal introduction of computability constraints makes it almost natural to replace optimisation paradigms by decision problems and the concomitant technicalities: computational, diophantine and algorithmic complexities of algorithms. It will be shown how these aspects enables the computable economist to formalize, in a perfectly sensible, non-suboptimal sense, notions such as bounded rationality and satisficing.

The students will also be introduced to the proof techniques, methods and concepts of recursion theory: diagonalization, reduction to diophantine decision problems, the incompressibility method, the use of Rice's theorem, the Halting Problem, computation universality, Church's Thesis, the Busy-Beaver problem, recursive enumerability vs. recursiveness, undecidability and uncomputability. It is hoped that students will, at the end of the course, have considerable facility in manipulating such techniques, methods and concepts to construct their own models of particular economic problems for theoretical and empirical investigations. Thesis topics with such aims in mind will be suggested for the participants and their adoption will be encouraged by a promise to monitor subsequent progress by competent supervisors.

(*An outline of the nature and scope of the field can be gleaned from Computable Economics by Velupillai (Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK; January 2000) ).



Program of the School

Application Procedure
Biographical sketches of instructor and guest lecturers Application Form
How to get to Trento Photos

Department of Economics via Inama, 5 I-38100 Trento tel. +39 461 282201