Spring 2005 Course Description

Applied Quantitative Analysis I

Instructor(s): Jay Zarnikau
Course: P A 397 - Applied Quantitative Analysis I
Unique Number: 62907
Day & Time: Mondays, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room: SRH 3.109
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information

Description: This course develops basic competence and skills in problem solving and quantitative methods applied to public policy analysis.? It emphasizes the art and skill of converting problem descriptions into quantitative models, and the analysis and interpretation of these models.

We will review some basic concepts of probability and descriptive statistics as a means of communicating and describing data of all types.? Following a brief discussion of data sources and sampling methods, we will study the use of sample data to make estimates of, and inferences about, the parameters of larger populations.? Using these inference skills, we develop and test models to describe relationships between various variables, based on sample data.

We will also look at how quantitative methods can be applied to support decision-making.? In our look at decision analysis, we will model decisions using decision matrices and decision trees.? With these tools, we will evaluate decisions made under conditions of certainty, risk, and uncertainty.? We will also consider the value and cost of obtaining additional information when making decisions, and how to incorporate the decision maker's value judgments into the decision model.? In all our decision analysis work we will consider the sensitivity of the decision to change in the problem conditions.? After a brief look at making choices involving several different, diverse characteristics, (i.e. multi-criteria decisions), we introduce the idea of "mathematical optimization" as a way to search for the best possible solution to a decision problem which may be constrained or unconstrained.? This will include using linear programming techniques as well as calculus-based techniques for non-linear functions.

The course is an applications course rather than a rigorous theoretical or mathematical development.? Emphasis in the course is on the application and interpretation of quantitative modeling and analysis methods in policy evaluation and decision-making.? Students will be required to make extensive use of Microsoft Excel computer spreadsheets for homework assignments, applications exercises, and take-home exams.

Return to Spring 2005 Course Schedule