professor
Eiichi Miyagawa

May 2007

Miyagawa's delivery for this class is extremely straightforward. For every concept, he first explains it generally and then uses concrete numbers and functions to serve as an example. Doing the homework really helps reinforce what's taught in class. The homework sets come from a whole packet which also contains many more practice problems to do. If you attend class, do homework, and do those extra practice problems, you are set for this class. His midterm and final don't test your ability to memorize random formulas. They test your understanding of the concepts and how well you can apply them to new situations.

May 2007

If you are coming into this class for an easy grade, leave right away. This class isn't exactly a breeze. You will have to put the necessary effort into studying to do well on his homework and exams. That being said, Eiichi is a very straightforward teacher. I have read reviews of him saying that he is horrible, but I do not believe it. Sure, he is not as extravagant as Xavier or as exceptional as Elmes, but he is by no means a joke professor. He definitely knows his material and will try and make sure that you get it too. It is a little weird when he picks randomly on people in class but it's usually in jest. If you talk to him after class or during office hours, he is generally helpful. Just don't ask stupid things like, "so... what's going to be on the midterm?" or "can you show me how to do number 9?" If you are more thoughtful, you would ask a question such as, "what is the distinction between compensating and equivalent variations and how do they relate to the income and substitution effects?" Anyway, before I ramble on too much, I will conclude by saying that his class is not the most interesting, but you will get a decent grasp of Microeconomics afterward.

May 2006

The class was very unstructured and was designed for you to discuss your research. I strongly suggest you already have a topic of interest from day one. There are basically two types of papers you "should" do. One that requires data - your own data you gathered yourself - and one that requires theoretical mathematical proofs that may require you to use advanced math-related computer programs. If your paper falls into either of these categories you should fare well. Professor Miyagawa is a stickler for strong logical reasoning of your work with required data or proofs. Doing a paper that requires your own data may be difficult to do because it's hard to collect data. But mathematical proofs are difficult too. Either way I suggest you start your paper early. You'll have to give two presentations. Also discuss your paper during his office hours if you can. You should. Good Luck.

May 2006

Eiichi sucks. No way arround that. I don't even know where to start with him, but here's my try: Student: "Professor, are you going have a review for the final?" Miyagawa: "No, just know that I can cover anything from the begining of the semester" Student: "Are we going to get our problem sets back from last month?" Miyagawa: "I asked the TA to grade them, but I cannot force him to grade them. If he doesn't do it, there's nothing I can do about it." He covers easy/basic problems in class, and then gives you this rediculously hard puzzle on the mid-term that tests your knowledge of geometry (like being able to remember the equation of a circle). This is my fault because I wanted to take micro with an easier professor, but I would have been better off with Elmes. At least, she goes in-depth in her lectures. Unless you like to use Google to figure out how to solve problems, take the course with someone else.

Dec 2005

This class doesn't have a textbook and reference material is pretty hard to find, but his notes are complete. The first third of the class is mostly micro (easy), and the second two thirds are mainly concerned with examing different types of decision making functions--this part is much more abstract than it sounds. His English is fine, and his accent wasn't a problem. He made most concepts interesting, but proofs of theorems often dragged on far too long. He didn't hold office hours every week, but he held extra ones before the midterm and the final. He was generally approcahable. This is a good class if you are comfortable with abstract concepts.

Dec 2005

1. Do not take it 2. Do not take it 3. Do not take it Prof. Miyagawa is the most unenthusiastic teacher in the entire university and it's also impossible to understand what he is saying during the class. A professor should help or encourage students to study the materials, but he does not really care about the students and his teaching. The school should do something about his attitude towards teaching. It seems like he only cares about his own research.

Feb 2005

Course requirements are very vague. No syllabus, no reading, and no assignments, just one project (which can be done in pairs). He asks that you tackle a resource-allocation type problem in an interesting way. Not very approachable.

Dec 2003

First off, I have to echo a warning from another reviewer: the class didnÂ’t cover what most of my classmates expected. Public Economics is essentially the study of theoretical choice mechanisms. It has nothing to do with public policy, or anything of practical use for that matter. It was much like a Philosophy class in this respect. Some of my classmates found this very frustrating, but they dropped the class almost immediately. By the way, we covered different material than the previous sessions, so take all these reviews with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to content. I was relatively comfortable with the focus of the class, but found it exasperating for two other reasons. First, I have never experienced a dynamic in which there was so little interaction between a professor and his students. I could have been watching it all on video. Professor Miyagawa is extremely patient and helpful when a question arises, but it seems to throw him off track, and he never encouraged it. Thankfully, he shines when it comes to explaining difficult concepts and is very meticulous and organized in his lesson plan. It is best to just let him go and save your questions for later. (Unfortunately some of my classmates never caught on to this.) Second, there was no text, and very little homework. Personally, I need a text to help reinforce what is taught in class. The subject matter is so obscure that there was nothing in the library to help me through the rough spots. With only a few problem sets, I found it difficult to pace my study and had no idea how well I was retaining what had been taught. Also, because there were few problem sets, the midterm and the final essentially determines your grade. I was surprised both times with the questions we were asked on the exams. Unlike the previous review, I found the proofs largely irrelevant, although I do agree they were interesting. It wasnÂ’t all bad. Miyagawa is an animated and quirky professor, and class was more interesting than not. The theorems we explored were generally useless, but they were also genuinely interesting. I found this class very difficult. You really need a solid background in mathematical proofs, as well as microeconomics. Honestly, it seemed like a third of the class was completely lost, a third were struggling, and a third found it easy and couldnÂ’t understand what all the fuss was about. I was in the middle third. I managed to get by on what I know, but only because the curve was so strong. In short, I canÂ’t say I recommend this class, unless you are the type of person who wouldnÂ’t find fault with what IÂ’ve mentioned. Certain types of people just love this sort of thing, I know. As for me, IÂ’m going to look elsewhere next semester.

Jan 2003

I begin with a warning: The title of this class is strongly misleading. It is actually a course in social choice theory, which is mostly game theory applied in interesting ways to non-traditional problems, all related in varying degrees to problems of collective action. He begins by telling the class that it is a course in "mechanism design," which is kind of like game theory in reverse (that is, engineering situations so that agents acting in their own self-interest will come up with an arrangement favored by the engineer). Only the tail end of the course actually deals with this; most of the course instead covering a variety of subjects that have little to do with traditional economics--modeling marriage markets, finding optimal housing allocations, and in-depth studies of preferences over policy spaces (as well as much more). It's mostly game theory (but nothing like the game theory you learned in Micro or in the game theory elective). It straddles the line between economics and useless math, and has little real-world application, but is interesting and mind-expanding nonetheless. Those who fall faint at the sight of proofs, however, should avoid this class. Most of the class involves him writing theorems and proofs on the board. Don't run away though, the proofs are relevant and interesting. For instance, when he creates a model for dating and marriage, he proves that you should ask others to dinner rather than waiting to be asked out yourself. Pace is a bit slower than I would have liked, and the professor can sometimes be a bit disorganized (coming to class late and using the first 20 minutes of class to repeat the last 20 of the previous class, mostly). A highly recommended class, especially when compared to the absolute dead zone that comprises interesting economics electives in the department. Eiichi is very friendly and willing to help, and the TA is very knowledgeable. The subject matter, while a bit off-the-wall, is interesting and usually not too difficult to understand. He is usually clear on notation (although those not familiar with set theory notation would be advised to ask questions at the beginning), and everything that needs to be written down in your notebook makes it onto the blackboard. Since most of the class is proofs, we had only two problem sets over the course of the semester--the first one very east, and the second one (quite near the end) reasonably difficult. Midterm and Final are difficult--mean on the midterm was a 43 of 70. The majority of the test is relatively easy, and Miyagawa always manages to slip in a prove-on-the-fly question for the overachievers (that is, the math majors, who will find this class really quite easy). Grading is standard (B / B+ mean)

Nov 2002

DO NOT take a class with him unless you have to. Any professor would be better than him. Why risk your GPA taking a class with this guy? You'll have to do a lot of studying by yourself to understand the material covered in class. My friends (6) and I were very sorry we took that class with him. I managed to get an A- but it was very hard. DO NOT TAKE A CLASS WITH HIM. Period.

Sep 2002

Simply a God among professors

Aug 2002

I guess Eiichi has changed since those first reviews. He is well-prepared for the lectures and sometimes throws in a joke or two. He is not the most experienced professor, so even more improvement can be expected in the future. Micro is not the most enjoyable class, but with him it's tolerable. As far as I know, the median in Fall2001 was B+.

Apr 2002

I can't believe that Miyagawa has this many bad reviews on CULPA. Sure, his English is accented, as expected with any professor whose native language is not English, but if you pay attention, you can understand every word coming out of his mouth. His lectures may not be particularly entertaining, but they are very organized and understandable if you keep up with the class. His midterm was a bit on the difficult side, but it tested your true knowledge of the material rather than your ability to plug numbers into the formulas that you memorized.

Jan 2000

Eiichi is a terrific lecturer. All the comments about him being hard to understand and taking his lectures straigt from the book are simply untrue. He is extremely easy to understand if you're paying attention and his lectures are extremely clear and organized. The fact that they are based on the book (an excellent textbook is used) only serves to make them clear and easily followed. He adds his own mathematical examples to the concepts he teaches from the text, so attending lectures is a must. Unfortunately, these mathematical models that are brought up so occasionally in class dominate the problem sets and tests. He expects students to be able to apply the simple examples he uses in class to much more complicated questions. For those of us who aren't particularly mathy, this presents a real challenge and your grade will suffer.

Jan 2000

Wow! It's just remarkable that a guy like this can get hired at an Ivy League school. Avoid at all costs.

Jan 2000

This is a response to all you Eiichi-haters out there. Did you take the same class as I did- cuz this man is positively amazing. The lecture notes are basically from the book, but he explains them as he goes along and makes them very understandable. If you can't understand his accent or hear him, you obviously aren't paying very close attention. Tests are not too difficult if you concentrate on understanding the practice test he hand out before.

Jan 2000

When I first checked out the CULPA reviews, I thought that this guy was some old bi-spectacled Japanese prof. with broken English. Well, to my surprise, he is not such!. He is a very young professor who clearly has a passion for his chosen profession. More importantly, his English is one of the best I have ever heard coming from a Japanese-sepaking mouth. He is very well prepared with his own notes and is very good at time management. He is also quite funny at times, being at his best when he doesn't realize why the students are laughing. The subject is a bit intimidating and very, very heavy on mathematics and terminology. The average on the midterm was 55! However he does grade on a curve. If you are seriously into economics, you will be happy to be in his class. If you are one of the people who are taking econ just because there is no business major at Columbia, then don't take this class with him.

Jan 2000

I don't want to be mean, but I do want to save all you incoming freshman and sophomores. Do NOT take his course. He was probably chosen to be a professor (adjunct) because he's a genius and he can PUBLISH a few renowned works in behalf of Columbia. But we want to learn!!!! And it's high time that we students let Columbia's administrators know that we want instructors who can actually teach, not just those that might be a little famous one day.

Jan 2000

This class is dreadful. The professor's English is very difficult to understand. Lecture notes are straight from the book and copied onto overhead slides. Take this class if you're a glutton for punishment. Expect to learn very little-unless you're planning to teach everything to yourself. Also, expect a stiff curve with mean being B-. Expect problem sets to take a lot of time.

Jan 2000

Everything said in the previous entry plus the following: Not only is it difficult to understand Eiichi, but hearing him is quite difficult as well. He speaks too softly, and sitting in the first few rows barely help. Three quarters of the class, in the back of the room, give up on listening and start having their own conversations.

Jan 2000

Wow, I'm amazed that this guy got some positive reviews. It obviously shows the extremely lowered expectations of the Columbia economics major. He prepares his lectures straight from the book. Brilliant! If he's going to read in a semi-difficult-to-understand-Japanese-accent, what is the point of going to class? Believe it or not, economics majors can read too! My advice for students who are about to take this class: come into the course with extremely lowered expectations, and you just may escape unscathed at the end of the semester.