Spring 2017 - 61590 - PA393L - Advanced Policy Economics

Social, Information & Innovation Networks

Networks are ubiquitous in the natural, social, and technical worlds. What is the nature of these networks? How to characterize and understand them? How do information and technology flow over networks? How does the structure of the underlying networks mediate flow of information, knowledge, and innovations among individuals and organizations? How do various actors (managers and entrepreneurs, government agencies, non-profits, suppliers, etc.) leverage networks to improve innovation capabilities? What role do networks play in shaping outcomes in the social and economic worlds? Concepts and methods to formulate, quantify, and analyze these questions will be discussed. This course is intended for first and second year Masters students and Ph.D. students.

Topics to be covered include: Graphs and networks; Social networks; Technological and online networks; Measures and metrics of networks; Large-scale structure of networks; Population effects and information cascades; Small world networks; Epidemic models; Markets and information; Knowledge and innovation networks.


None. Basic grasp of Linear Algebra and Graphs would be helpful. However, all relevant concepts will be reviewed in class.


1. Required readings: Students are expected to complete the required readings each week prior to the class meeting for the unit and to contribute to the class discussion.

2. In-Class Presentation: Each student will be responsible for developing and delivering a 15-20 minute presentation based on one paper assigned by the instructor. Additional information will be provided in class and uploaded on Canvas.

3. Problem Sets: There will be 8 to 10 problem sets, almost on a weekly basis. Each problem set will have 3-5 problems, selected from the two textbooks (see below).

4. Exams: Mid-term and final exams.


We will use material from two textbooks.

Textbook 1: Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About A Highly Connected World, by David Easley and Jon Kleinberg, Cambridge University Press (2010). The book is available for free at: http://www.cs.cornell.edu/home/kleinber/networks-book/

Textbook 2: Networks: An Introduction, by M.E.J. Newman, Oxford University Press (2010). Purchasing this book is recommended.

Additional required readings: Relevant material from the textbook for each unit will be augmented with 2-3 additional readings, typically highly accessible and relevant journal articles selected by the instructor. These readings will be posted on Canvas at least one week prior to the unit when these readings will be discussed.