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Tjalling C. Koopmans Memorial Lectures

The Tjalling C. Koopmans Memorial Lectures were initiated by the Cowles Foundation in 1989 using a fund established by Koopmans' family, friends, and colleagues shortly after his death in 1985. These lectures offer an opportunity for preeminent scholars of economics to provide synthesis and perspective on a body of ongoing research to a broad audience of economists. The Cowles Foundation is pleased to introduce a monograph series based on these lectures. Tjalling Koopmans was a prominent voice in the early efforts of the Cowles Commission (later Cowles Foundation) to bring rigorous logical, mathematical, and statistical methods of analysis to the study of economics. His pathbreaking work on linear programming methods and their application to problems of optimal resource allocation led to his Nobel Prize in economics in 1975.

In this rigorous and well-crafted work, Kenneth Wolpin examines the role of theory in inferential empirical work in economics and the social sciences in general—that is, any research that uses raw data to go beyond the mere statement of fact or the tabulation of statistics. He considers in particular the limits that eschewing the use of theory places on inference.