Becker Friedman Institute
for Research in Economics
The University of Chicago

Research. Insights. Impact. Advancing the Legacy of Chicago Economics.

Open Source Macroeconomics Laboratory Launched

New summer boot camp helps build advanced computing skills for policy analysis

The Becker Friedman Institute is pleased to announce the creation of the Open Source Macroeconomics Laboratory (OSM Lab), which will run an intensive and immersive seven-week computational macroeconomics boot camp from June 19 to August 4, 2017.

The goals are to:

  • train advanced undergraduates and graduate students with the computational skills to participate in cutting-edge economic research and public policy analysis;
  • inspire the brightest young researchers to pursue policy-relevant work throughout their careers;
  • spread the ideals of transparency and replicability throughout the economics profession from the ground up, and
  • accelerate scientific progress in economics and policy analysis more broadly.

The program is open to talented and motivated advanced undergraduate students and graduate students, with 20 fully funded student slots for available for summer 2017. Funding includes travel to and from the University of Chicago, housing at the University, and a stipend of $4,200 for the seven weeks. Successful applicants will have taken courses or demonstrate proficiency in core microeconomic theory (constrained optimization with Lagrangian), linear algebra, multivariable calculus, real analysis, and writing code in some programming language.

Program Details

The curriculum of this program includes advanced mathematics, economic theory, and computational methods, all with a focus on open source languages, collaboration, and exposition. Programming at the boot camp will be mostly in Python. We will also use the collaborative open source platforms of git and GitHub extensively.

The OSM Lab boot camp curriculum will draw from the resources of quant-econ.net produced by Sargent and Stachurski, and the curriculum of the Brigham Young University Macroeconomics and Computational Laboratory. Both of these programs have a rich track record in producing a pipeline of students with a modern base of computational and theoretical skills for careers in research. Student researchers who complete the OSM Lab boot camp will emerge with a rich set of computational tools, experience in successfully applying those tools to macroeconomic questions, and the ability to collaborate effectively.

The director of the OSM Lab is Dr. Richard W. Evans, senior lecturer in the M.A. Program in Computational Social Science at the University of Chicago and fellow at the Becker Friedman Institute.

Other instructors during the summer include: 

The deadline to apply was Feb. 12; applications are now closed.

Direct any questions to Richard Evans.

Past Participants' Experience

Below are testimonials from past participants of the Macroeconomics and Computational Laboratory boot camp at BYU. All of these students were advanced undergraduates when they participated in the boot camp; they are now successful PhD students in top programs.

“I came out of boot camp feeling like I really knew how to program. ...what I learned in boot camp was extremely useful, if for no other reason than I learned how to work through difficult problems. I really enjoyed the collaborative work environment. Even after boot camp was over I've continued working with some of the same students, which has made the last few semesters much easier than they would have been otherwise.”
— David Beheshti, current third-year PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin
 

“I really enjoyed the collaboration between students. The class was fast-paced and required that we developed a strong trust between classmates in order to work together and assist in each other's learning process. I also really enjoyed the openness of both the professors and the TAs. I felt confident that when I had questions they would be more than willing to set aside a few minutes in order to help me understand the material. I loved the difficulty of the class.... boot camp is certainly the name that is appropriate for the class. Boot camp was a totally new experience. I had never been required to push myself so hard to understand such large quantities of material. The environment in which such an intelligent group of students is able to gather together and understand a high level of material made it some of the most interesting weeks of my year.”
— Chase Coleman, current fourth-year PhD student at New York University Stern School of Business
 

“Boot camp was the most unique learning experience I have had at [my university]. The structured, direct teaching style coupled with the rigorous coursework made for an awesome and highly productive two months. Being new to high-level economics and academic research in general, I feel that without the boot camp experience I wouldn't be prepared for my position as a research assistant or applications to graduate school. I would highly recommend boot camp to any aspiring economics student, or anyone interested in learning advanced applied mathematics and computer science.”
— Spencer Lyon, current fourth-year PhD student at New York University Stern School of Business
 

“The only thing I can say about boot camp is that the six weeks of mental abuse have had the highest returns out of any other class I have taken as an undergraduate. Looking back at conferences I have attended, journal articles I have read, and research I have done, I feel like the shades of ignorance have been removed and that I can finally understand and contribute to the academic and economic research world.”
— Timothy Hills, current second-year PhD student at New York University, Stern School of Business
 

“Boot camp was a very stressful but also a very enriching experience. I really enjoyed being able to push myself beyond what I thought was possible. The ability to work with other students and learn how to do collaborative research with other students was a priceless experience. Overall, I enjoyed the time that I was able to put into this exercise.... I believe that the training and research opportunities are some of the best on campus. Being able to coauthor research papers and learn mainstream models are excellent experiences. Second, the connections that this group has in academia and in the private sector are wonderful. I am very grateful for my time in the [Macroeconomics and Computational Laboratory].”
— T.J. Canann, current third-year PhD student at the University of Minnesota

“I believe one of the strong points of boot camp was the camaraderie. The group of students and instructors we had was absolutely wonderful. Of course, having the chance to be introduced to so many new topics was exhilarating. I most enjoyed implementing some of the various math and econ algorithms on the computer. I feel as if boot camp has been the single most enriching academic experience in the whole of my scholastic life.”
— Christian Baker, current third-year PhD student at the University of Chicago
 

“While boot camp was the hardest term I have taken, I really enjoyed gaining a stronger mathematics and economics foundation and learning how to effectively collaborate with others. I now feel much more prepared to conduct economics research. Furthermore, the professors were exceptionally helpful and encouraging in pushing us to be our best. I also thoroughly enjoyed working with my fellow students. Working through challenging homework sets, computer programs, and mathematical proofs in this group was an amazing experience because our work was truly collaborative: each student put forth their best efforts, which, when put together, exceeded anything we could have accomplished individually.
— Sara Taylor, current third-year PhD student at MIT Media Labs
 

“I have never been in a better learning environment than boot camp. The professors work closely with you and help you master the material. The classwork pushed me to my limits and expanded my capacity to solve problems and think analytically. And it is not just busy work. Every assignment helped me become a better problem solver which is important no matter what you study. However, working with fellow students to solve difficult problems was the highlight of boot camp. I learned a lot from my classmates, made friends, and it was a lot of fun.”
— Ryan Brunt, current first-year PhD student in Computer Science at New York University