"Data, Dollars, and Algorithms: The Computational Economy"


Thursday, January 19, 2017
9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Harvard University Science Center, Hall B, 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138

You buy lunch from a food truck and pay by waving your cell phone; before you’ve finished your sandwich, the transaction is posted to your bank account. This is an example of how computer technology lubricates the economy. At a deeper level, computation is also essential to many aspects of financial engineering—portfolio selection, risk management, high-speed trading, the design of new market mechanisms such as online auctions, and even algorithms for the donation and exchange of human organs. With BitCoin, money itself has become a computational object. And yet there remain pitfalls in economic life that algorithmic methods have so far failed to overcome. We still struggle to forecast and control macroeconomic cycles of boom and bust and to deal with inequities of wealth distribution. Merely measuring the state of the economy (productivity, employment, inflation) is slow and imprecise. Can abundant data and computational power play a role in improving this situation?

This symposium will explore how access to copious streams of data and powerful computing resources are transforming our understanding of economic activity—and how these same tools are changing the nature of the economy itself.

Eric Budish, Professor of Economics, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
R. Martin Chavez, Chief Information Officer, Goldman Sachs
Hanna Halaburda, Visiting Professor of Managment, New York University
Serena Ng, Professor of Economics, Columbia University
Tuomas Sandholm, Professor of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Aviv Zohar, Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering and Computer Science, Hebrew University

David Cox, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and of Computer Science, Harvard
Bryan Hayes, Senior Writer for American Scientist & Associate in Computer Science, Harvard
Pavlos Protopapas, Scientific Program Director, Institute for Applied Computational Science, Harvard
Neil Shephard, Professor of Economics and of Statistics, Harvard

The Harvard University Science Center is located at 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138, just north of historic Harvard Yard and is bounded to the east by Oxford Street. To the west, across an oak-filled quadrangle, is the Harvard Law School.  It is approximately a 5 minute walk from the Harvard Square T-Stop (see Google map for details).

Metered parking in and around the Harvard campus is extremely limited. We recommend that students and visitors coming by car purchase parking permits for Harvard garages. The Everett Street and Oxford Street garages are closest to the SEAS campus.  Note: Harvard Parking Permits must be purchased and printed in advance over arrival.  More information can be found here.