A Mathematics Course for Political & Social Research
Nowadays, the research in political or social sciences is unavoidably connected with some mathematics. And very frequently, this mathematics are not just a mere presentation of data (a work that already requires some mathematical skills) but the construction of models, the elaboration of predictions or the delimitations of patters.
This situation justifies the existence of a collection of math references tailored for researchers, or students, in political and social sciences. The book under review is one of them, specially designed to provide the reader the basic tools needed to tackle the initial problems in these fields. This basic approach can be also seen as the first step for those who will need to study further mathematical techniques from other sources, to be applied in more sophisticated investigations.
The manual is divided into five parts. The first gives the basic vocabulary and building blocks in mathematics. The second explains the calculus in one dimension. The third is devoted to probability. The fourth explains basic linear algebra and the final part, multivariate calculus and Optimization. Each part is divided into several chapters, which are endowed with a very similar structure: They present motivation for the tools that are going to be introduced by means of examples in political and social sciences. Then, the techniques are introduced in the simplest way, avoiding unnecessary abstraction. Proofs are omitted. Each chapter ends with a collection of exercises. In addition, every section of the chapters is ended with a subsection called “Why Should I Care?”. These subsections represent a continuous bridge between the mathematics and the real situations to which the techniques can be applied. The authors, professors of political sciences, make a remarkable effort to motivate the theory with the problems that can be solved from them.