Mathias Brandewinder on .NET, F#, VSTO and Excel development, and quantitative analysis / machine learning.
8. December 2009 13:58

How to value life is a thorny issue for economists and non-economists, but I hadn’t expected the question to be also a matter of lively discussion among dinosaurs. And considering the state of decision theory at the time, they do a pretty good job at it.

16. September 2008 16:59

Macroeconomics and public policy have never been my forte in economics, which is probably why I did not come across the Gini coefficient until now. In a nutshell, the Gini coefficient is a clever way to measure inequalities of distribution in a population.

As an illustration, imagine 4 countries, each of them with 10 inhabitants. In Equalistan, everyone owns the same amount of \$100, whereas in Slaveristan, one person owns everything, and the 9 others have nothing. In between, there are Similaristan and Spreadistan.

If you order the population by increasing wealth and plot out the cumulative % of the total wealth they own, you will get the so-called Lorentz curve. Equalistan and Slaveristan are the two extreme possible cases; any curve must fall between these two, and the further the curve is from Equalistan, the less equal the distribution. The Gini coefficient uses that idea, and measures the surface between the Equalistan curve and your curve; normalizing to obtain 100% for the Slaveristan case, and any population will have an index between 0% (perfectly equal) and 100% (absolutely unequal).

16. May 2008 12:29
I was looking into some information on simulation techniques a few days back, and stumbled across this quote about social sciences in a presentation by Prof. Klaus G. Troitzsch.
“the problems which they try to answer arise only in so far as the conscious action of many men produce undesigned results, in so far as regularities are observed which are not the result of anybody’s design. If social phenomena showed no order except in so far as they were consciously designed, there could be no room for theoretical sciences of society. . .  It is only in so far as some sort of order arises as a result of individual action but without being designed by any individual that a problem is raised which demands a theoretical explanation.”

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