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Basic Mathematics for Economists

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Basic Mathematics for Economists, 9780415267847 (0415267846), Routledge, 2003
Economics students will welcome the new edition of this excellent textbook. Given that many students come into economics courses without having studied mathematics for a number of years, this clearly written book will help to develop quantitative skills in even the least numerate student up to the required level for a general Economics or Business Studies course. All explanations of mathematical concepts are set out in the context of applications in economics.

This new edition incorporates several new features, including new sections on:
  • financial mathematics
  • continuous growth
  • matrix algebra
Improved pedagogical features, such as learning objectives and end of chapter questions, along with an overall example-led format and the use of Microsoft Excel for relevant applications mean that this textbook will continue to be a popular choice for both students and their lecturers.

First, it provides a revision of arithmetical and algebraic methods that students probably studied at school but have now largely forgotten. It is a misconception to assume that, just because a GCSE mathematics syllabus includes certain topics, students who passed examinations on that syllabus two or more years ago are all still familiar with the material. They usually require some revision exercises to jog their memories and to get into the habit of using the different mathematical techniques again. The first few chapters are mainly devoted to this revision, set out where possible in the context of applications in economics.

Second, this book introduces mathematical techniques that will be new to most students through examples of their application to economic concepts. It also tries to get students tackling problems in economics using these techniques as soon as possible so that they can see how useful they are. Students are not required to work through unnecessary proofs, or wrestle with complicated special cases that they are unlikely ever to encounter again. For example, when covering the topic of calculus, some other textbooks require students to plough through abstract theoretical applications of the technique of differentiation to every conceivable type of function and special case before any mention of its uses in economics is made. In this book, however, we introduce the basic concept of differentiation followed by examples of economic applications in Chapter 8. Further developments of the topic, such as the second-order conditions for optimization, partial differentiation, and the rules for differentiation of composite functions, are then gradually brought in over the next few chapters, again in the context of economics application.

Third, this book tries to cover those mathematical techniques that will be relevant to students’ economics degree programmes. Most applications are in the field of microeconomics, rather than macroeconomics, given the increased emphasis on business economics within many degree courses. In particular, Chapter 7 concentrates on a number of mathematical techniques that are relevant to finance and investment decision-making.

Given that most students now have access to computing facilities, ways of using a spreadsheet package to solve certain problems that are extremely difficult or time-consuming to solve manually are also explained.
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