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A Computer Algebra Primer and Homework Exercises for use in an Intermediate Macroeconomics Course—A Student/Teacher Collaboration


  • Ryder Delaloye
  • Luke Olson
  • Max Jerrell


This paper details some of the results of a student/teacher collaboration to develop computer algebra materials for use by students in an intermediate macroeconomics course. Many years ago the teacher required students solve macro models using a pencil and paper. For the most part these models were linear IS—LM models. One problem that arose with the pencil and paper solution is that introducing slight modifications to the model could require substantial solution time on the part of the students. This tended to reduce the complexity and sophistication of the models considered. Computer algebra systems have certain advantages. They can produce symbolic solutions as well as numerical solutions. Symbolic solutions are often presented in textbooks giving students some confidence that the solutions really are valid. The teacher also found that using a CAS was far more efficient in a lecture than solving models on a blackboard. The teacher wrote a primer discussing the features of the CAS that the students would need to complete projects given in the class as well as a series of classroom exercises. For the most part the exercises only required that the students copy the program, change parameters or exogenous variables and discuss the results of the changes. The teacher discussed the value of the exercises with a number of students after the semester ended and found that they thought the exercises were too easy. The teacher succeeded in getting one student to enroll in an independent study class to revise the primer and to reconstruct the exercise so they would be more meaningful to the students. The choice of a CAS is considered, followed by a discussion of the prevalence of CASs in various disciplines, followed by the primer, then the exercises and lastly, some example lecture notes created using a CAS.

Suggested Citation

  • Ryder Delaloye & Luke Olson & Max Jerrell, 2005. "A Computer Algebra Primer and Homework Exercises for use in an Intermediate Macroeconomics Course—A Student/Teacher Collaboration," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 139, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf5:139

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christophe Planas & Alessandro Rossi, 2004. "Can inflation data improve the real-time reliability of output gap estimates?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 121-133.
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    5. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kahn, Charles M, 1980. "The Solution of Linear Difference Models under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1305-1311, July.
    6. repec:cup:macdyn:v:8:y:2004:i:1:p:27-50 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Leitemo, Kai & Soderstrom, Ulf, 2005. "Simple monetary policy rules and exchange rate uncertainty," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 481-507, April.
    8. Dennis, Richard, 2007. "Optimal Policy In Rational Expectations Models: New Solution Algorithms," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 31-55, February.
    9. Roberds, William, 1987. "Models of Policy under Stochastic Replanning," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 731-755, October.
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    11. Batini, Nicoletta & Nelson, Edward, 2000. "When the Bubble Bursts: Monetary Policy Rules and Foreign Exchange Market Behavior," Working Papers 2000-01, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    12. Fabrizio Zampolli, 2004. "Optimal monetary policy in a regime-switching economy," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 166, Society for Computational Economics.
    13. Gilles Oudiz & Jeffrey Sachs, 1985. "International Policy Coordination in Dynamic Macroeconomic Models," NBER Chapters,in: International Economic Policy Coordination, pages 274-330 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    Teaching; Computer Algebra Systems;

    JEL classification:

    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate
    • C65 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Miscellaneous Mathematical Tools


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