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08.02.2016 14:05Fun and Games (BALTICAPP - Race Against Eutrophication Blog) Matti Sihvonen

Hi all!

 The year 2016 has started in a rather intensive fashion. Our microeconomic course is now in its third phase, and the topic of this module happens to be game theory. This is a very interesting topic within economic theory. It’s also one of the most popular topics in modern economics. It’s closely related to information economics, which is the topic of the last micro course later this spring. Unfortunately, game theory is also very difficult field to master. There are so many solution concepts. In this theory we are interested in strategic interactions of economic agents. I would certainly like to apply this theory, and its applications in information economics, later in the resource work, perhaps even in this project and in some of the PhD-articles. Thus, the motivation is there for sure, but I’m a little sceptical as far as my potential goes. I will do my best and hope that I gain some understanding about this fascinating subject. By the way, the second micro course went surprisingly well, I’m happy to say.

 I’m also happy to say that the actual work has taken steps ahead. I was finally able to find the equations that work in the optimization. The model was ready and also the analytical solution for the dynamic optimization problem was provided. Thus, I almost had the material ready for the first article.

Then we decided to ask information about the data directly from the Valkama and Turtola themselves (the ones who wrote the articles that we have been using in the work). Valkama and Turtola will join us as a writers in the first article. We had a skype-meeting and it was very useful indeed. It turned out that we had misunderstood some aspects in their articles and now we have to reconsider couple of things before we can move forward. So this is two steps ahead and one step behind kind of a situation. The fundamental problem is that there is so great variation within the data that one cannot actually find any kind of causality in there. In other words, it’s really hard to say what factors affect the yield response or yield in particular soil.

It was also interesting to notice that biologists, or ecologists, and economists approach modelling a little bit differently; it seems that biologists use models to explain phenomena’s that take place in the environment whereas we economists use models in optimization and such where the crucial question usually is: what would happen if.. Hence, we have to develop a model that can be used in dynamic optimization. With the limited data, some crucial assumptions have to be made. Biologists might be a little be reluctant to approve these assumptions, because the existing data doesn’t provide clear evidence to justify these assumptions. Now we have to find some kind of balance between the two worlds so that we are able to deliver this joint article. I guess these is a common situation in multidisciplinary resource work. It can be very challenging, but I might assume that eventually multidisciplinary study may provide more robust results and models than monodisciplinary study.         

 In our department, our office turned into an international one as we got couple of foreign PhD-students into our gang. A male came from Turkey and a female came from Taiwan. Actually the male came from Spanish University and female from university in Holland. It’s very nice to have here people from abroad because now we have to speak English all the time. Thus, our language skills might be developing. Of course it’s also always interesting to wider once worldview by having conversations with people from around the world. Hence, I would say that our working environment is now more interesting.

 That’s it for now. We keep studying and working and improving. Although it might feel hard sometimes, in the end, it’s all about fun and games. At least one should try see the obstacles and problems as such, I guess.

 Best regards: Matti

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