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My Interest In Mathematics’ Application In Modern Day Economics

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My fascination with mathematics has led me to read about the subject widely. In doing so, I have gained insight into how mathematics helped catalyse humanity’s transition from the old to modern world view. Indeed, after reading ‘Seventeen Equations that Changed the World’ by Ian Stewart, I have learned that mathematics has greatly changed the way in which the world around us functions. It has given growth to many areas of study and shaped our ability to reason and come to decisions. Through mathematical equations and models, we can precisely communicate ideas that might otherwise, with words, be influenced by our own biases. Specifically, I am eager to learn about mathematics’ relations with modern day economics, and how we are affected by its uses.

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To start with, I am keen on learning the techniques of modelling real life situations using mathematical concepts and language, and on finding out the extent to which the results from such modelling are used in decision making within firms and government. In particular, what has piqued my interest is the application of the Nash equilibrium, a concept within game theory and which allows economists to assess competing behaviours of rational, interacting agents and in doing so predict future economic/business trends and developments. The strategic thinking required to recognise a Nash equilibrium is part of what draws me towards economics and makes me want to research further into the field.

While I find the prospect of using mathematical models at university very exciting, I also wish to know the practicality of modelling real life situations using assumptions that go beyond the scope of mathematics. Should economists always remain faithful to mathematics or at times trust their own intuitions? Questions such as this have arisen due to the financial crisis in 2008, which gave reason to doubt the reliability of mathematical models. I believe there is a need for more refined approaches or rather economists should look to other fields such as anthropology to complement current models being used. When dealing with uncertainties within the ways human societies produce, distribute and consume goods and services it is a risk to overlook those interactions that cannot be accounted for purely mathematically.

I believe that the expertise available at university will allow me to delve into these and related matters with my grounding in A-level mathematics, chemistry and business studies providing me with strong foundations to do so. I have enjoyed doing calculus, and will readily differentiate to optimise functions to see relationships between different variables such as supply and demand. Chemistry has equipped me with the skills necessary to plan an experiment methodically, to gather data that is fair and reproducible, and to draw sensible conclusions from my findings. Business studies for its part has given me knowledge of both the internal and external factors that influence the decision-making of firms, which is an important aspect of behavioural economics. Also, I will bring to the course the experience of working for a week at Nielsen, a global data analytics company, where I gained insight into how data about what people watch, listen to and buy is collected and analysed.

I should add that as a member of my school’s and local youth football teams I have participated in many competitions and won trophies. Sport has taught me the value of teamwork and instilled in me a sense of community. These values will support and benefit me during my time at university, as I’ll be capable of balancing academic work alongside any sport or recreational activities.

Finally, a degree in economics or one combined with mathematics will provide me with the skills and knowledge necessary for future postgraduate studies and a career in banking and finance.

29 April 2020

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