Perspectives on Computational Modeling (MACS 30100)

Course Description - Students are often well trained in the details of specific models relevant to their respective fields. This course presents a generic definition of a model in the social sciences as well as a taxonomy of the wide range of different types of models used. We then cover principles of model building, including static versus dynamic models, linear versus nonlinear, simple versus complicated, and identification versus overfitting. Major types of models implemented in this course include systems of nonlinear equations, linear and nonlinear regression, supervised learning (decision trees, random forests, support vector machines, etc.), and unsupervised learning. We will also explore the wide range of computational strategies used to estimate models from data and make statistical and causal inference. Students will study both good examples and bad examples of modeling and estimation.