About The Atlas of Open Economic Models
The Atlas of Economic Models aims to be a comprehensive list of the main 'building-block' models used by economists. It also includes additional information, for example worked out analytical solutions to special cases and details as to how models inter-relate (hence the 'Atlas' in the title). The Atlas serves several purposes:
- It acts as a simple reference tool.
- It helps review what is out there, both in terms of models and in terms of their solution and saves one from having to either rederive results by hand or search laboriously through the literature.
- It makes easier to identify how a given model in a particular paper derives from the standard building blocks, and thus how it relates to other work and other results.
The nature of economics, particularly its focus on addressing (complex) real-world problems in many different areas, means that the same underlying model reappears in many different guises and contexts. By providing one consolidated, comprehensive list of basic model types the Atlas makes it easier to identify how a particular model relates to others in the literature. In this way the Atlas helps situate and organize the existing literature relative to the basic models of the discipline.
In summary: the Atlas consolidates and clarifies in a single knowledge base the core repertoire of models used by economists.
Our inspiration derives from the the famous Atlas of Finite Groups, which was published in 1985. This represented a culmination of several decades of intensive effort to classify all finite mathematical groups. The result was a single volume which listed all the simple finite groups (any finite groups can be decomposed using standard techniques into a combination of simple finite groups). The Atlas of Economic Models seeks to do something 'similar' for economic models.
Editorial and Advisory Board
To contact us please email atlas [at] okfn [dot] org
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why not just use Wikipedia?
Wikipedia has a clear and specific mission: to provide a general purpose encyclopaedia usable (and editable) by anyone. Our task is much more focused both in terms of content and users. While Wikipedia does include some articles on economic models its focus is to make these intelligible for the general audience. By contrast we wish to deal with a wide range of models in depth and provide material in a form that will be useful for the 'working economist'.
2. Why produce the Atlas when there are already plenty of 'Handbook' series providing in-depth surveys of particular areas?
- The Atlas is available for free.
- The Atlas is 'open' -- that is it is made available under an open license that permits others to use, reuse and redistribute freely.
- The Atlas is first and foremost a digital online resource.
- The Atlas is developed in a wiki and welcomes a wide spectrum of contributors.
3. Why be 'Open'
The most basic reason is that this is primarily a scholarly project - the vast majority of those doing economic research reside in the academy - and the traditions of scholarship have always been strongly supportive of openness and the free sharing of information.
It is important to note that 'Open' does NOT imply the lack of an attribution requirement (for more discussion and details of attribution requirements see the license page).
To give some specific reasons. For our contributors:
- Simple and transparent statement as to the basis on which they are contributing, in particular:
- It ensures that what is freely provided will remain freely available to them (and others)
- Openness makes it possible to bring together contributions arising from a wide variety of authors distributed over time and space, especially when these contributions are to the same piece of information (e.g. a given entry).
For our users (many of whom will also be contributors):
- To maximize welfare by ensuring the widest possible level of access.
- Supporting reuse and integration into other areas (in ways we probably cannot currently imagine but which are likely to prove fruitful both in those other areas and for the Atlas).