Note: The following blog post is written in collaboration with GPT-4.
Last updated: 6th May 2023
Software for Econ: A Fun and Simple Guide to Coding and AI for Economics
Hello, young explorers! Welcome to the wonderful world of coding and AI for economics. I'm an economist who knows how important it is to learn about new tools that help us conduct exciting research. In this blog post, I'll show you the coolest software and tools that can help you become an amazing economics adventurer! You don't need to be a computer genius to start; just bring your curiosity and an open mind.
A programming language is like learning a secret code to talk to computers! It helps you work with numbers, make pretty pictures with data, and create your own computer models. In economics, we use languages like R, Python, and Stata. You can pick any of them to start your adventure.
Packages/Libraries (Treasure Boxes)
Packages, or libraries, are like treasure boxes filled with useful tools that someone else has already made for you. Just like you have extensions in your web browser, like AdBlockPlus which enhances the capability of your browser, similarly we have these treasure boxes (packages or libraries) that enhance the capability of our code. In R, Python, and Stata, there are lots of treasure boxes for economics research. Some popular ones are:
R: ggplot2 (for making pretty pictures), dplyr (for playing with data), and xtable (for making neat reports)
Python: pandas (for playing with data), NumPy (for number games), and matplotlib (for making pretty pictures)
Stata: xtreg (for finding patterns in data), ivregress (for solving tricky problems), and collapse (for summarizing data)
Integrated Development Environment (IDE) (The Super Helper)
An IDE is like a super helper that makes it easy to write, fix, and run your secret code. It is the "app" where you write all code and conduct all your analysis. It helps you keep your code neat and tidy, find mistakes, and use other helpful tools. Popular super helpers for R, Python, and Stata are:
RStudio: A special super helper just for R, making it simple to work with data and make pretty pictures.
Visual Studio Code (VSCode): A super helper that can work with many languages, like Python. You can add more tools to make it even better for you.
Stata: Stata is both a secret code language and a super helper in one! It's designed to make working with economics data easy and fun.
Markup Language (The Magic Formatter)
A markup language helps you turn plain text into something pretty and well-organized. Markdown is a simple magic formatter that helps you create nice-looking documents without much effort. You can use Markdown to write stories, make slides, or even write your own blog posts.
Typesetting Language (The Fancy Document Maker)
LaTeX is a fancy document maker that helps you create really nice-looking papers. It's especially good for writing math problems and making your school papers look professional. To use LaTeX, you'll need a helper like MikTex (for Windows) or MacTex (for macOS).
Version Control (The Time Machine)
A version control system is like a time machine for your secret code. It remembers all the changes you make, so you can go back in time if you need to. This is great when you're working with friends or on big projects. GitHub is a popular time machine that lets you save and share your secret code with others.
Cloud Storage (The Magic Cloud)
The magic cloud helps you keep your work synced with the web, safe, and easy to find, no matter where you are. Dropbox is a popular magic cloud that lets you store and share files easily. With the Dropbox app, your files can simultaneously appear on all your devices while you work on them, and you can work together with friends or collaborators.
Leveraging AI for Economics Research: ChatGPT-4 (The Clever Robot Friend)
AI, or artificial intelligence, is like having a clever robot friend that helps you with your research. One awesome robot friend is ChatGPT-4, which can help you in many ways as an economics adventurer:
Literature Review Assistance: ChatGPT-4 can read lots of big books and papers really fast, and then tell you the important stuff. This saves you time for the actual analysis.
Idea Generation: If you ever need new ideas for your research, ChatGPT-4 can help you think of interesting questions or problems to solve.
Text Analysis: ChatGPT-4 can read lots of words, like news articles or messages, to find trends or patterns that can help your research.
Drafting and Editing: Writing papers or reports can take a long time. ChatGPT-4 can help you write faster and better.
Collaboration: ChatGPT-4 can be your virtual research buddy, helping you brainstorm ideas or answer questions. It can also help you work with other friends, both inside and outside of economics.
Just remember, even though ChatGPT-4 is really smart, it's important to always check its answers and make sure they make sense. Clever robot friends can sometimes make mistakes, so you should always think carefully before using their ideas in your research.
Learning about cool tools and software is very important for young economics adventurers like you. This blog post has shown you the amazing world of coding and AI for economics, including secret code languages, super helpers, magic formatters, fancy document makers, time machines, magic clouds, and clever robot friends like ChatGPT-4. By using these tools, you can become an even better economics researcher and have more fun along the way. Happy exploring!