Ec 121a: Theory of Value

Fall 2017

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:30–11:55 a.m. // 125 Baxter

Professor: KC Border

Office hours:
Wednesdays, 1:00–3:50pm
205 Baxter

It is not enough that you understand about applied science in order that your work may increase man's blessings. Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors, concern for the great unsolved problems of the organization of labor and the distribution of goods—in order that the creations of our minds shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind.

Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.

—Albert Einstein, Address to the Students at Caltech (February 16, 1931).

Ec 121 is a required course for the economics option. In this course you will learn to understand and manipulate economists' theoretical models of resource allocation and the workings of supply and demand in an idealized economy. The course is highly theoretical and somewhat mathematical. The course evaluations have suggested that the level of mathematics was that of the “analytical track.” I presume you know what that means, as I don't.

This web site will change frequently throughout the course of the term, so come back often.


The recommended textbook for this course is Hal Varian's Microeconomic Analysis, third edition, 1992, New York: Norton.


Grades will be based on four to six homework assignments, at approximately two-week intervals.

Homework assignments

Collaboration is allowed on the homework, but your write-up must be in your own words and may not be copied. Please ask for clarification if anything is unclear.

Graded assignments may be picked up from Barbara Estrada in room 111 Baxter during nromal business hours. Federal law (FERPA) as interpreted by the registrar requires that you show ID to pick up your work. Currently the following assignments are available to be picked up:

Notes for Lectures

Dates indicate latest revision

Supplemental Notes

Some of these notes are unfinished. While I have been careful in the preparation of these notes, I am not good at proofreading my own writing, so there may be some errors. If you find any, please let me know.

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Updated 8-Dec-2017 by KC Border.