21 Aug 2014

Passing Time


Full title: Passing Time: Temporality and Econometrics
Course number: UQR2211
University/Department: NUS, USP
Offered: Spring 2014 (1 section), Spring 2017 (1 section).


Background Information

“Passing Time: Temporality and Econometrics” is the equivalent of an “upper-level” quantitative reasoning course in USP. It broadly discusses the implications of “time,” specifically for quantitative analyses. It amounts to a survival modelling course, but with a unique USP twist: the course also targets student writing. Throughout the entire course, students repeatedly work on their ability to write about the various quantitative analyses we discuss in accessible, non-technical, but precise prose.

This course is not compulsory for USP students. To enroll in the course, students must first complete our department’s mandatory quantitative methods course (QRF). The emphasis on writing is so strong that the course has been designated a “Writing Concentration” course, which is a departmental distinction given to approximately 1-2 upper-level courses each semester.

For examples of interactive tools I have created to make this course’s content more concrete:

  • An interactive Shiny app that allows students to see why OLS will (very often) not be the best choice for analyzing duration data.
  • An interactive Shiny app that allows students to see different parametric survival models’ hazard functions.
Course Description
Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.
variously attributed
Whether an event happens is a relevant question for multiple disciplines. Will a recession occur? Will a politician publicly support a legislative bill before the final vote? Will a patient die of a disease? Will a machine part break down? Will a married couple get divorced? Will an unemployed worker find a job? Will a patient experience depression? Will a student graduate from college? Will a cease-fire hold? Will a household own a car? Often, we hypothesize that some factor (x) affects the probability of the event occurring (y). Econometric models—regression, specifically—permit us to assess whether our hypothesis has empirical support.

However, for any question where we can ask “whether” something happens, we can also ask when it happens. For example: How long until a recession occurs? How long until a politician publicly supports a legislative bill before the final vote? How long before a patient dies of a disease? How long before a machine part breaks down? How long until a married couple gets divorced?

In this module, we are concerned with “when” questions. What got people thinking about time’s effect on events in the first place? Why were existing tools insufficient to assess hypotheses about time’s effect? What makes the passage of time so special? What tools can we use to assess hypotheses about time? The module starts with simple tools and builds upward, ultimately arriving at more complex econometric models than anything students see in QRF.

This module counts as one of the four required Inquiry-level modules in the Sciences and Technologies domain for USP students. Additionally, this module is a Writing Concentration Module. Across all three module components, you will repeatedly work on your ability to write about the various quantitative analyses we discuss in accessible, non-technical, but precise prose.


Syllabus (Spring 2017)