Fall 2022

Introduction to Economic Networks

Listed in: Economics, as ECON-224

Moodle site: Course


Tyler Porter (Section 01)


The modern era has seen an explosive growth in the interconnectedness of individuals and groups. From social networks facilitating the decentralized exchange of enormous amounts of information to the increasingly complex patterns of loans among financial institutions, the ties that connect agents are an important factor to consider for nearly any policy maker. Networks, collections of objects which are connected by links, have become increasingly prevalent in modern economic research due, in part, to their ability to bridge microeconomic behavior and aggregate patterns in a population. A departure from more traditional applications of networks as modeling physical systems to a more abstract framework capturing the relationships between autonomous agents adds a layer of complexity to the analysis that is well-suited for tools from economics, and in particular game theory. Broadly speaking, this course will explore how the structure of connections between individuals affects, and is affected by, the economic incentives of those individuals. We will begin with an introduction to graphs, and then turn to specific applications of networks within economics. We will discuss networked markets featuring intermediaries between buyers and sellers, the structure of information networks and internet economics, applications to sponsored search, centrality measures for influence, and end with models of cascades and innovation in networks and how the structure of a network affects the likelihood of a cascade.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Porter.

How to handle overenrollment: Some preference will be given to a) students who have taken fewer 200 level economics classes and b) economics majors.  The class will be selected to achieve a group with diverse academic backgrounds and interests.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written problem sets consisting of quantitative reasoning exercises and application of theoretical results from lectures. Readings will be assigned for each lecture from the assigned textbook as well as an accessible, popular book geared toward the layman. Students are encouraged to seek applications of the course material in popular media and current events. Strong emphasis on visual analyses of networks.


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022