ASSRU Economic Themes and their Intellectual Origins

Computable Economics - Alan Turing1

The mathematical foundations of the kind of economic theorising we encourage and celebrate at ASSRU is underpinned by the work of Alan Turing. Fundamentally this is about computability theory forming the disciplining criterion in all our economic modelling exercises, whether theoretical or empirical; whether aggregative or disaggregative; and whether static or dynamic. Issues of Solvability and Unsolvability, decidability and undecidability, constructivity and non-constructivity (mathematically considered) and simplicity and complexity are themes that permeate our work at ASSRU.

Classical Behavioural Economics - Herbert Simon

The decision theoretic foundations of rational economic behaviour, institutional - and other - economic evolution in semi-decomposable systems, human and machine problem solving by information processing systems, modelling the logic of discovery in Peircean (anti-Popperian), retroductive, modes, and theorising about causality were among some of the many pioneering research themes to which Herbert Simon contributed as no other economist did. Moreover, as distinct from 'modern' behavioural economics, Simon's work is rigorously and essentially computationally - in the precise sense of computability theory - underpinned. Hence the perennial theme of computational complexity theory recurs and permeates almost all of Herbert Simon's research results and contributions. We derive our inspiration to learn and, hopefully, contribute to these themes in our work at ASSRU.

Adaptive Monetary Macrodynamics - Maynard Keynes

The origins of macroeconomics - above all at the hands of Wicksell and his Swedish followers - lie in the study of monetary malfunctioning in aggregative dynamic economies subject to the iron discipline of accounting balance. Even though we respect, and study, the Swedish origins of monetary macroeconomics, we at ASSRU seek the adaptive foundations of aggregative monetary non-equilibrium economic dynamics in that modern prose masterpiece, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by Maynard Keynes.

Algorithmic Production Theory - Piero Sraffa

Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities by Piero Sraffa, with its roots in the 'magnificent dynamics' of classical production theory, coupled to the noble Italian tradition of double-entry bookkeeping, in our reading and interpretation at ASSRU, is formulated in natural algorithmic language. Our work in production theory and productivity measurement derives its discipline and inspiration from this classic - and other masterpieces - by Piero Sraffa. Moreover, our work in monetary macrodynamics, via a 'Sraffian interpretation' of Keynes' monetary theory - read through the lens provided by 'Dr.Hayek on Money and Capital' - allows us to try to work out a non-equilibrium adaptive dynamic system, forever in transitional mode, whether towards any predefined equilibrium or not. The computable economics link comes about via the notion of a computationally universal dynamical system and the Universal Turing Machine.

Nonlinear Coupled Economic Dynamics - Richard Goodwin

No one economist devoted more sustained effort to formalize and study economic dynamics - macrodynamically and intersectorally - than Richard Goodwin. He pioneered the study of coupled, multisectoral economic dynamics and discovered the quasi-periodic paradox in pure Molière mode2. Under the gentle and wise tutelage of Phillipe Le Corbeiller - who himself contributed more than anyone else to making the rich nonlinear dynamics of the van der Pol oscillator pedagogically available for textbook dissemination - Richard Goodwin introduced the formalism of nonlinear dynamics in Keynesian and classical models of the business cycle. Much of the research and teaching efforts at ASSRU are directly inspired by Richard Goodwin's contributions to economics.


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1 Recursion theory or computability, but also constructive mathematics, underpin the mathematics of the economic theory we try to develop at ASSRU, hence Luitzen Brouwer, too, should be included among our inspiring intellectual spirits. The sixth chess piece, perhaps the pawn, is to be identified with Brouwer - with the other five pieces, shown on the home page, corresponding to the five explicitly acknowledged ASSRU spiritual patrons, listed here, and whose various portraits appear on that page

2 In the sense of having practised and theorised about what is fashionably called agent-based economics via a study of coupled markets, coupled nonlinearly modelled aggregate economies, and multisectoral production economies, computationally, embedded in dynamic systems, analogous to the way Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme spoke prose all his life, without realising it.