Friday, January 23, 2015

Overselling cross disciplinarity

I wrote a post How (not) to break into a field. Some of those ideas where supported when I recently started reading Paul Krugman's nice little book, The Self-Organizing Economy

Early in the book he notes:
the authors of articles and books on complexity almost never talk to serious economists or read what serious economists write; as a result, claims about the applicability of the new ideas to economics are usually coupled with statements about how economies work (and what economists know) that are so ill-informed as to make any economist who happens to encounter them dismiss the whole enterprise. 
But it does not have to be that way.
Unfortunately, you could replace "complexity" with quantum information theory and "economics" with chemistry, biology, or condensed matter physics.
Or,  astrophysicists and cancer, ... physicists and the origin of life .... string theorists and condensed matter ....

On the positive side, Krugman then discusses some nice simple "economic" models that produce spatial or temporal organisation, and power laws. He also briefly relates what he is doing to ideas of emergence and Phil Anderson.

My only disappointment is that there is no real data in the book. However, if you want to see some real data for scaling laws in economics and finance see this helpful review which contains curves such as the one below.

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