The online version of the Caltech Catalog is provided as a convenience; however, the printed version is the only authoritative source of information about course offerings, option requirements, graduation requirements, and other important topics.
SS 13. The Application of Social Scientific Methods to Problems in History. 9 units (3-0-6); first term. The application of theory from economics, political science, and demography to historical subjects, with an emphasis on questions of institutional change. The historical topics covered will depend upon the instructor. Not offered 2012–13.
BEM/Ec/SS 20. Scientific Writing and Oral Presentation in the Social Sciences. 6 units (2-0-4). For course description, see Business Economics and Management.
SS 98. Reading in Social Science. Units to be determined for the individual by the department. Elective, in any term. Reading in social science and related subjects, done either in connection with the regular courses or independently of any course, but under the direction of members of the department. A brief written report will usually be required. Graded pass/fail. Not available for credit toward humanities–social science requirement.
SS 101. Selected Topics in Social Science. Units to be determined by arrangement with the instructor; offered by announcement. Not available for social science credit unless specifically approved by social science faculty. Instructors: Staff, visiting lecturers.
CNS/SS/Psy/Bi 102 ab. Brains, Minds, and Society. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Computation and Neural Systems.
CNS/SS/Psy 110 abc. Cognitive Neuroscience Tools. 5 units (1.5-0-3.5). For course description, see Computation and Neural Systems.
H/SS 124. Problems in Historical Demography. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see History.
Ec/SS 124. Introduction to Empirical Process Methods. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Economics.
Ec/SS 129. Economic History of the United States. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Economics.
Ec/SS 130. Economic History of Europe from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Economics.
PS/SS 139. Comparative Politics. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Political Science.
An/SS 142. Caltech Undergraduate Culture and Social Organization. 9 units (3-0-6). For course description, see Anthropology.
CNS/Bi/SS/Psy 176. Cognition. 12 units (6-0-6). For course description, see Computation and Neural Systems.
The graduate courses listed below are not necessarily taught each year. They will be offered as need dictates.
SS 200. Selected Topics in Social Science. Units to be determined by arrangement with instructors; offered by announcement. Instructors: Staff, visiting lecturers.
SS 201 abc. Analytical Foundations of Social Science. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second, third terms. This course covers the fundamentals of utility theory, game theory, and social choice theory. These basic theories are developed and illustrated with applications to electoral politics, market trading, bargaining, auctions, mechanism design and implementation, legislative and parliamentary voting and organization, public economics, industrial organization, and other topics in economics and political science. Open to Social Science graduate students only. Instructors: Ortoleva, Elliott, Echenique.
SS 202 abc. Political Theory. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second, third terms. Course will introduce the student to the central problems of political theory and analysis, beginning with the essential components of the democratic state and proceeding through a variety of empirical topics. These topics will include the analysis of electoral and legislative institutions, legislative agenda processes, voting behavior, comparative political economy, and cooperation and conflict in international politics. The student will be sensitized to the primary empirical problems of the discipline and trained in the most general applications of game theoretic reasoning to political science. Open to Social Science graduate students only. Instructors: Palfrey, Snowberg, Alvarez.
SS 205 abc. Foundations of Economics. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second, third terms. Prerequisite: Ec 121 ab or instructor’s permission. This is a graduate course in the fundamentals of economics. Topics include comparative statics and maximization techniques, the neoclassical theory of consumption and production, general equilibrium theory and welfare economics, public goods and externalities, the economic consequences of asymmetric information and incomplete markets, and recursive methods with applications to labor economics and financial economics. Open to Social Science graduate students only. Instructors: Border, Shannon, Ledyard.
SS 209. Behavioral Economics. 9 units (3-0-6); offered by announcement. Prerequisite: SS 201 abc or instructor’s permission. This course explores how psychological facts and constructs can be used to inform models of limits on rationality, willpower and greed, to expand the scope of economic analysis. Topics include overconfidence, heuristics for statistical judgment, loss-aversion, hyperbolic discounting, optimal firm behavior when consumers are limited in rationality, behavioral game theory, behavioral finance, neuroeconomic dual-self models, and legal and welfare implications of rationality limits. Not offered 2012–13.
SS 210 abc. Foundations of Political Economy. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second, third terms. Prerequisites: SS 202 c, SS 205 b. Mathematical theories of individual and social choice applied to problems of welfare economics and political decision making as well as to the construction of political economic processes consistent with stipulated ethical postulates, political platform formulation, the theory of political coalitions, and decision making in political organizations. Instructors: Agranov, Yariv.
SS 211 abc. Advanced Economic Theory. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second, third terms. May be repeated for credit. Advanced work in a specialized area of economic theory, with topics varying from year to year according to the interests of students. Instructor: Saito, Yariv, Elliott.
SS 212. Application of Microeconomic Theory. 9 units (3-0-6). May be repeated for credit. A working seminar in which the tools of microeconomic theory are applied to the explanation of events and the evaluation of policy. Not offered 2012–13.
SS 213 abc. Financial Economics. 9 units (3-2-4); first, second, third terms. First term: asset pricing theory, statistical tests on historical data and evidence from financial markets experiments. Second term: financial econometrics, with emphasis on applications to risk management. Third term: general equilibrium foundations of asset and option pricing theory. Instructor: Bossaerts. Part a offered first term.
SS/Ma 214. Mathematical Finance. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. A course on fundamentals of the mathematical modeling of stock prices and interest rates, the theory of option pricing, risk management, and optimal portfolio selection. Students will be introduced to the stochastic calculus of various continuous-time models, including diffusion models and models with jumps. Not offered 2012–13.
SS 216. Interdisciplinary Studies in Law and Social Policy. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. A policy problem or problems involving the legal system will be studied, using concepts from at least one social science discipline. Each offering will be taught by a law professor, alone or in conjunction with a member of the social science faculty. The topic will differ from term to term, so the course may be taken more than once. Selected undergraduates may enroll in this course with the permission of the instructor. Not offered 2012–13.
SS 218. Neuroscience Applications to Economics and Politics. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Topics in behavioral, affective, and social neuroscience that inform how individuals make economic decisions. Applications of neuroscience to understanding choice under risk and uncertainty, temporal discounting and self-control, advertisement and preference formation, addiction and other pathological behaviors, experienced utility, empathy, and trust. Not offered 2012–13.
SS 222 abc. Econometrics. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second, third terms. Introduction to the use of multivariate and nonlinear methods in the social sciences. Open to Social Science graduate students only. Instructors: Shum, Gillen, Sherman.
SS 223 abc. Advanced Topics in Econometric Theory. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second, third terms. Prerequisite: SS 222 abc; may be repeated for credit. A course in quantitative methods for second- and third-year social science graduate students. Instructors: Sherman, Shum, Gillen.
SS 227. Identification Problems in the Social Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6). Prerequisite: SS 222 abc. There is a tension in modeling social science phenomena between making strong assumptions, which lead to descriptive or normative conclusions that are precise when the assumptions hold but invalid when they do not hold, and making weak assumptions, which lead to less precise conclusions but hold more generally. The preponderance of social science research to date takes the former approach. This course studies recent advances in the latter approach. The course will review the work of Manski on bounds identification and estimation and trace some of the developments in this line of research to the present. Various applications of the methodology will be considered, including applications to Stanford-9 test-score data and data on organic pollutants in the Love Canal. Not offered 2012–13.
SS 228. Applied Data Analysis for the Social Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. The course covers issues of management and computation in the statistical analysis of large social science databases. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian estimation will be the focus. This includes a study of Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods. Substantive social science problems will be addressed by integrating programming, numerical optimization, and statistical methodology. Not offered 2012–13.
SS 229 abc. Theoretical and Quantitative Dimensions of Historical Development. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second terms. May be repeated for credit. Introduction to modern quantitative history. The tools of economic and political theory applied to problems of economic, social, and political development in a historical context. Second and third terms will be graded together. A pass/fail will be assigned in the second term and then changed to the appropriate letter grade at the end of the third term. Instructor: Hoffman, Rosenthal.
SS 231 abc. American Politics. 9 units (3-0-6); first, second, third terms. A three-term course in American politics and political behavior. While drawing from contemporary materials, the course will emphasize the historical background of American political institutions. Instructor: Alvarez.
SS 232 abc. Historical and Comparative Perspectives in Political Analysis. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Provides a knowledge and understanding of developments in both the American past and in other parts of the world. Not offered 2012–13.
SS 240. Techniques of Policy Research. 9 units (3-0-6). Prerequisite: SS 205 ab. The application of social science theory and methods to the formulation and evaluation of public policy. Not offered 2012–13.
SS/CS 241 ab. Introduction to Social and Information Sciences. 9 units (3-0-6); second, third terms. Undergraduates cannot use this course towards fulfilling the core Institute social science requirement. Introduction to techniques and methods used in research at the intersection of social and information sciences: aggregation of dispersed information and optimal allocation of resources through markets, networks, and other social systems; formation and off-equilibrium behavior of these systems; distributed cognition; related computational issues; aggregation, allocation, formation, and equilibration enhancements through technology—hardware and software, economic theory applied to the design of communication networks and computational systems; distributed information systems supporting economic activity. Instructors: EAS and HSS faculty. Not offered 2012–13.
CNS/SS 251. Human Brain Mapping: Theory and Practice. 9 units (2-1-6). For course description, see Computation and Neural Systems.
SS/Psy/Bi/CNS 255. Topics in Emotion and Social Cognition. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Prerequisite: Bi/CNS 150 or instructor’s permission. This course will cover recent findings in the psychology and neurobiology of emotion and social behavior. What role does emotion play in other cognitive processes, such as memory, attention, and decision making? What are the component processes that guide social behavior? To what extent is the processing of social information domain-specific? Readings from the current literature will emphasize functional imaging, psychophysical, and lesion studies in humans. Not offered 2012–13.
SS 260. Experimental Methods of Political Economy. 9 units (3-3-3); first, second, third terms. Survey of laboratory experimental research related to the broad field of political economy. Topics: the behavior of markets, organizations, committee processes, and election processes. Emphasis on experimental methods and techniques. Students will design and conduct experiments. May be repeated for credit with instructor’s permission. Instructor: Plott.
SS 281. Graduate Social Science Writing Seminar. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Only open to advanced graduate students in social science. How can social scientists write in a style that makes someone actually want to read their papers? This seminar combines writing exercises with help in planning a professional social science paper and with extensive comments on drafts. Instructor: Hoffman.
SS 282 abc. Graduate Proseminar in Social Science. 3 units (2-0-1); first, second, third terms. Course for graduate students in social sciences. Students present their research and lead discussion of material relevant to their research program. Instructor: Rosenthal.
SS 300. Research in Social Science. Units to be arranged.