SCOTT N. SWISHER IV (PH.D., UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON)
Scott does empirical interdisciplinary research at the intersection of industrial organization, networks, and economic history. Scott works with economic models where intermediary firms build connections using a network technology, for example railroad companies building railroad lines or Internet service providers connecting households to the Internet's network backbone. These firms want to maximize their own profits given what their competitors are doing, and they own a small piece of a larger network like the national rail network or Internet. Network theory, which originated in pure mathematics and has recently branched out to applications in sociology, computer science, and economics, provides a language to think about the choices of these firms. As originally seen in mathematics, specifically combinatorial optimization, problems of this type are difficult to solve because of the large number of possible network configurations, some of which end up being stable when every firm does the best that it can. An important part of Scott's research is how to deal with these computational issues when taking the model to data. It is also important to account for the historical and regulatory environment in which the firms operate since this sets the technology and "rules of the game" by which firms compete. Finally, since the firms are strategic in their investment choices when building network connections, insight from game theory is needed to determine how they collectively behave when maximizing their profits.