Richard Bookstaber @ Chatham House
Jun 27 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Bookstaber Our economy may have recovered from the Great Recession—but not our economics. In The End of Theory, Richard Bookstaber discusses why the human condition and the radical uncertainty of our world renders the standard economic model—and the theory behind it—useless for dealing with financial crises. What model should replace it? None. At least not any version we’ve been using for the past two hundred years. Instead, Bookstaber argues for a new approach called agent-based economics, one that takes as a starting point the fact that we are humans, not the optimizing automatons that standard economics assumes we are.

Bookstaber’s groundbreaking paradigm promises to do a far better job at preventing crises and managing those that break out. As he explains, our varied memories and imaginations color our economic behavior in unexpected hues. Agent-based modeling embraces these nuances by avoiding the mechanistic, unrealistic structure of our current economic approach. Bookstaber tackles issues such as radical uncertainty, when circumstances take place beyond our anticipation, and emergence, when innocent, everyday interactions combine to create sudden chaos. Starting with the realization that future crises cannot be predicted by the past, he proposes an approach that recognizes the human narrative while addressing market realities.

Sweeping aside the historic failure of twentieth-century economics, The End of Theory offers a novel and innovative perspective, along with a more realistic and human framework, to help prevent today’s financial system from blowing up again.

Richard Bookstaber has overseen risk management at investment banks Morgan Stanley and Salomon Brothers, as well as major hedge funds such as Moore Capital and Bridgewater. He has also held positions at the U.S. Treasury, and is currently at the University of California. He is the author most recently of A Demon of Our Own Design (Wiley).

Craig Bauer @ International Spy Museum
Jul 18 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

BauerIn 1953, a man was found dead from cyanide poisoning near the Philadelphia airport with a picture of a Nazi aircraft in his wallet. Taped to his abdomen was an enciphered message. In 1912, a book dealer named Wilfrid Voynich came into possession of an illuminated cipher manuscript once belonging to Emperor Rudolf II, who was obsessed with alchemy and the occult. Wartime codebreakers tried—and failed—to unlock the book’s secrets, and it remains an enigma to this day. In this lively and entertaining book, Craig Bauer examines these and other vexing ciphers yet to be cracked. Some may reveal the identity of a spy or serial killer, provide the location of buried treasure, or expose a secret society—while others may be elaborate hoaxes.

Unsolved! begins by explaining the basics of cryptology, and then explores the history behind an array of unsolved ciphers. It looks at ancient ciphers, ciphers created by artists and composers, ciphers left by killers and victims, Cold War ciphers, and many others. Some are infamous, like the ciphers in the Zodiac letters, while others were created purely as intellectual challenges by figures such as Nobel Prize–winning physicist Richard P. Feynman. Bauer lays out the evidence surrounding each cipher, describes the efforts of geniuses and eccentrics—in some cases both—to decipher it, and invites readers to try their hand at puzzles that have stymied so many others.

Unsolved! takes readers from the ancient world to the digital age, providing an amazing tour of many of history’s greatest unsolved ciphers.

Craig P. Bauer is professor of mathematics at York College of Pennsylvania. He is editor in chief of the journal Cryptologia, has served as a scholar in residence at the NSA’s Center for Cryptologic History, and is the author of Secret History: The Story of Cryptology. He lives in York, Pennsylvania.