by Mark C. Wilson | Aug 27, 2014

Speaker: Nina Anchugina

Affiliation: PhD student, Department of Mathematics

Title: Evaluating Long-Term Investment Projects: What Should The Discounting Method Be?

Date: Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014

Time: 4:00 pm

Location: CAG17/114-G17 (Commerce A)

Increasingly today there is a necessity to evaluate projects, policies and activities, whose consequences will be spread over a long period of time.

Projects are usually analysed by converting the future values into present values by attaching some weight to each period; this procedure is known as discounting. Several methods of discounting have been developed but a universal one does not exist. The choice of discounting method, however, may be vital for deciding whether a certain project should be implemented or not. The question is: Which method of discounting should be used when evaluating long-term public projects?

In this talk we will firstly consider two main types of discounting, namely exponential and hyperbolic discounting, their functional forms, properties and implications. I will provide an example which illustrates how the choice of discounting method appears to be crucial for making a decision. Secondly, we will analyse an appropriate social discount function for a public project implied by an aggregation of the individual discount functions. Finally, we will investigate the situation when there is an uncertainty about discount rates for exponential discounting, which is a common case for long-term projects. I will also present some new results on the choice of a discount rate of the hyperbolic discounting when there is uncertainty about future rates .

by Mark C. Wilson | Aug 14, 2014

Speaker: Golbon Zakeri

Affiliation: UoA Engineering Science

Title: Electricity market modelling, economics and analytics

Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014

Time: 4:00 pm

Location: CAG17/114-G17 (Commerce A)

Over the past 2 decades there has been a major shift to meet the electricity needs of various countries and jurisdictions through markets. We will start by describing issues common to the vast majority of electricity systems and reasons that rationalised the move to electricity markets in developed countries. We will then discuss issues that arise from a transition to an electricity market with a particular focus on the NZ electricity market. This is a rich source of mathematical modelling, economics and analytics problems. We will lay out some of the more interesting problems that we have tackled and go in more depth to explore consequences of the introduction of renewables and our proposed solutions.

This talk is targeted towards members with varied backgrounds.

Everyone welcome!

by Mark C. Wilson | Jul 31, 2014

Speaker: Jeremy Seligman

Affiliation: The University of Auckland (Philosophy)

Title: Secret tweets and network discovery

Date: Wednesday, 6 Aug 2014

Time: 5:00 pm

Location: Room 405, Engineering (403)

You are a secret agent with a secret S that you would like to transmit to a fellow agent a unobtrusively using a very public network like Twitter. Any information you tweet will be received by your followers on the network. You correctly assume that they will send the message on to their followers (retweet it) if and only if it does not conflict with any information they already possess. With luck, your message will be tweeted through the network until it eventually reaches a. Under what conditions is it possible for you to convey S to a in this way, without other agents in the network learning this information? Clearly,you cannot tweet S itself, but if, for example, a is the only agent to know that K then the message `if K then S’ may work, if there is a suitable path from you to a. To know whether you can succeed or not and what to tweet, you need to know something about the network and the information already possessed by the other agents. But you can learn something about this with a test tweet. If, for example, you know that you have two followers b and c and only b believes P and then you tweet the message `not P’ then if, after a certain length of time, someone tweets P to you, you know that there is a loop back to you via c. This talk will report on recent joint work on these and similar questions with Mostafa Raziebrahimsaraei.

by Mark C. Wilson | Jun 6, 2014

The Centre for Mathematical Social Science (CMSS) is pleased to announce that its 6th Summer Workshop will be held at the University of Auckland in the week of 8-12 December 2014. The CMSS is an inter-disciplinary research centre whose members include mathematicians, computer scientists, philosophers and economists. Information on the CMSS, and details of previous Workshops, can be found on our website: http://cmss.auckland.ac.nz/.

This year’s theme is diffusion in social networks, but submissions on any aspect of mathematical social science are welcome.

Confirmed speakers include:

– Matthew O. Jackson (Stanford University) — Seelye Foundation Fellow

– Damon M. Centola (University of Pennsylvania)

If you would like to participate in the Workshop, please contact any of the organisers listed below by 15 October 2014. Contributed slides or papers will be archived on the CMSS website. We will be glad to hear from you.

There is no fee for participating in the Workshop.

Patrick Girard (Philosophy) p.girard.auckland.ac.nz

Dion O’Neale (Physics) d.oneale@auckland.ac.nz

Mark C. Wilson (Computer Science) mc.wilson@auckland.ac.nz

University of Auckland

by Mark C. Wilson | May 28, 2014

Speaker: Matthew Ryan

Affiliation: Department of Economics, UoA

Title: Binary Stochastic Choice under Risk or Uncertainty

Date: Tuesday, 3 Jun 2014

Time: 5:00 pm

Location: Room 412, Science Centre (303)

Economists usually model choice as deterministic, via preference relations, though occasionally — and usually for econometric convenience — choice is allowed to be stochastic. Psychologists, on the other hand, typically model choice behaviour as intrinsically stochastic. In psychophysics, for example, it is common to model the probability of choosing one option over another (in a binary choice problem) as an increasing function of the difference in “utility” stimuli associated with the options. This is called a “strong utility representation” (SUP) for the binary choice probabilities.

These models of binary stochastic choice generate numerous interesting mathematical problems. This talk will introduce a small sample. The main focus will be on binary choice problems in which each option is a “lottery”, with risky or uncertain value. Given a specification of choice probabilities for all possible pairs of lotteries, under what conditions (on these probabilities) does there exist a SUP? What if we additionally require that the utility scale exhibit particular properties, such as linearity?

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