subject area 
university status  
Gdańsk, Poland

Informatics and Econometrics

Informatyka i ekonometria

Language: PolishStudies in Polish
Subject area: computer science
Kind of studies: full-time studies, part-time studies
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Econometrics is the application of statistical methods to economic data and is described as the branch of economics that aims to give empirical content to economic relations. More precisely, it is "the quantitative analysis of actual economic phenomena based on the concurrent development of theory and observation, related by appropriate methods of inference". An introductory economics textbook describes econometrics as allowing economists "to sift through mountains of data to extract simple relationships". The first known use of the term "econometrics" (in cognate form) was by Polish economist Paweł Ciompa in 1910. Jan Tinbergen is considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of econometrics. Ragnar Frisch is credited with coining the term in the sense in which it is used today.
Informatics is a branch of information engineering. It involves the practice of information processing and the engineering of information systems, and as an academic field it is an applied form of information science. The field considers the interaction between humans and information alongside the construction of interfaces, organisations, technologies and systems. As such, the field of informatics has great breadth and encompasses many subspecialties, including disciplines of computer science, information systems, information technology and statistics. Since the advent of computers, individuals and organizations increasingly process information digitally. This has led to the study of informatics with computational, mathematical, biological, cognitive and social aspects, including study of the social impact of information technologies.
Though he died in 1946, Keynes still dominated economics at Cambridge in the mid-1960s. It wasn't just that all the leading figures among the faculty, Richard Kahn, Joan Robinson, Brian Reddaway, David Champernowne, Nicholas Kaldor, and James Meade, had been his pupils and/or collaborators. It was the tone of the place. The study of economics, theoretical or empirical, was driven by the desire to improve the conduct of economic policy. This did not mean that pure theory was neglected. Indeed, in those years Robinson was fighting a stirring battle in the realms of high theory with Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Nor was Cambridge innocent of the cutting edge of econometric technique. Richard Stone, who, following Keynes's suggestions, had created the first modern national income accounts, was still director of the Department of Applied Economics where much of modern econometrics was pioneered. Nonetheless, we were taught that theory and technique should serve the higher cause of rational economic policies, and to use our newly learned econometric expertise to write essays on unemployment, or inflation, or the balance of trade, or some other topic at the top of the current political agenda.
John Eatwell, "Citizen Keynes", The American Prospect (1994)
The possibility of a stable economic life with full utilization of our resources is still not sufficiently assured, and it is extremely important that it should be so assured, and that the whole world should accept this as a fact. The work that is being done in econometrics is massive, and undaunted by mathematical difficulties, but it appears, at any rate as viewed from outside, to be unclear as to its aim.
Arnold Tustin The Mechanism of Economic Systems (1953) p. 1
As an econ blogger, I get the sense that this is exactly how many Americans still think of economists--as self-appointed defenders of the free market, spinning theories to show that greed is good. Watching those old Milton Friedman videos, I wonder if that picture might have been accurate in the 1960s and 1970s. But some big things have changed in the field of economics, and America should know about them. Three big changes stand out in particular: Econ today is more data-driven, far less politically conservative, and in general much more like engineering than it used to be.
Noah Smith, "Economists used to be the priests of free markets--now they're just a bunch of engineers," Quartz, May 13, 2014.
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