Sessions taught: Spring 2022, Fall 2022

Course description

The purpose of this course is to offer a solid, intermediate-level training in theoretical microeconomics. We will try to achieve a more in-depth understanding of how the standard theoretical models of microeconomics work. The course consists of three parts. We will start out by analyzing consumer decision-making. We then turn to the behavior of firms. Finally, the third part of the course studies the interaction of consumers and firms in goods markets.

  • Principles of Economics
  • Calculus III
  • “Intermediate Microeconomics with Calculus” — Hal Varian (2014)

I respect academic publishers too much to suggest [Googling the textbook title and authors with “pdf”](intermediate microeconomics with calculus hal varian pdf) to get a free electronic copy. Or downloading them, also for free, off Sci-Hub .


(to be updated soon, placeholders for now)

These slides are weekly elaborations on a specific newly introduced concept and so do not represent comprehensive coverage of the course material. They’re also not necessarily self-contained; I sometimes supplemented my slides with blackboard work and conversation with students, which is not always captured in the annotations. Course material is also instructor-specific; if you’re reading this as a Columbia student taking the same course, it may not correspond to the treatment or selection of topics your particular instructor chooses to cover. For example, compared to my Spring 2022 coverage, the following material from Fall 2022 covers a wider range of topics but omits some material such as the method of Lagrange multipliers.

Pre-course material
  • Review of prerequisite calculus and optimization methods
  • Logistics and introduction to the course
Consumer optimization
Hicksian demand and special well-behaved preferences
Comparative statics and Slutsky decomposition of price effects
Hicksian decomposition of price effects and introduction to welfare
Producer Theory I: Cost minimization
Producer Theory II: Profit maximization under perfect competition
General equilibrium
Exchange economies and the Edgeworth boxBonus: by student request, an applied derivation of IC equations and intersections for accurate graphing
Models of monopolistic and oligopolistic competition
Pre-final review
Running log of responses to student emails and and corrections to weekly slides
Comparing models of oligopolistic competition
High-level summary and takeaways from the course