Evan Friedman, PhD Candidate in Economics

March 05, 2018
Evan Friedman

Where did you grow up? 
New Jersey.

What drew you to your field? 
I have always been interested in human behavior. Of the many fields that examine human behavior in one way or another, economic theory seemed the best fit for me because of its emphasis on abstraction and the sort of methodologies it employs. Basically, I enjoy the problem-solving aspects of economic modeling.

How would you explain your current research to someone outside of your field? 
A “game” is an abstract description of a situation in which “players” interact. Game theory makes predictions of behavior in games by modeling how players form beliefs over what others are doing and how they respond to those beliefs. My research involves collecting experimental data from games and developing game-theoretic models to describe the observed behavior. Most of the models I work on resemble the Nash equilibrium, but incorporate somewhat realistic elements, like various types of cognitive limitations.

What resources or opportunities that Columbia provides have been most valuable to you?
Graduate student housing is a big one. Also, there has been plenty of funding for travel and data from the Economics Department.

Is there a common misconception about a topic in your field that you wish you could correct?
I think economics as a whole is rather misunderstood, actually. It is so often conflated with business or (non-academic) finance. I think of economics more as a set of methodologies.

Who in your field do you consider to be a role model?
Ken Arrow: a great economist, and a very kind person, I have heard.

Who are your favorite writers?
I quite like Christopher Hitchens. I have not read a novel in some time...

Who is your hero of fiction?
Ellen Ripley from Alien

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
I would come back as my favorite animal—the stoat.

What music have you been listening to lately?
Mostly K-pop.

Where is your favorite place to eat on or around campus?
I am very excited about the new H-mart!