Farewell Paul Samuelson

His work and his methods drove economics into the position it is today.  In terms of driving the economic method forward (and establishing “economic science”) he is the most important economist of the 20th century in my opinion.

Here are some links discussing his life and work:

Economist’s View.

Marginal Revolution (and, and)

Anti-Dismal.

Paul Krugman.

Econlog.

This quote from Lucas is apt:

Samuelson was the Julia Child of economics, somehow teaching you the basics and giving you the feeling of becoming an insider in a complex culture all at the same time. I loved the Foundations. Like so many others in my cohort, I internalized its view that if I couldn’t formulate a problem in economic theory mathematically, I didn’t know what I was doing. I came to the position that mathematical analysis is not one of many ways of doing economic theory: It is the only way. Economic theory is mathematical analysis. Everything else is just pictures and talk

  • Peter Boettke at the Austrian Economists blog has an interesting posting on Paul Samuelson as well.

  • Perhaps a more apt notion of how to use mathematics in economics comes in a letter from Alfred Marshall to A L Bowley:

    I went more and more on the rules—(1) Use mathematics as a shorthand language, rather than as an engine of inquiry. (2) Keep to them till you have done. (3) Translate into English. (4) Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life. (5) Burn the mathematics. (6) If you canʼt succeed in 4, burn 3. This last I did often.

  • John Maynard Keynes may have had more influence on policy makers, Milton Friedman on citizens, Kenneth Arrow on economic theory, but Samuelson had more influence on the way economics is done today, and the purposes to which it is put, than any other economist of the twentieth century.

  • Knowledgeable article! Nice that i got an opportunity to know that mathematical analysis is not one of many ways of doing economic theory: It is the only way. Economic theory is mathematical analysis.Paul Krugman link was awesome.Thanks for sharing such a useful post with us.