In the first of this collection of essays Professor Stone exemplifies the value of mathematics in many branches of the social sciences, not only to describe the world as it is but also to formalize the mechanism of decisions by which it is changed and to build the complex models needed to co-ordinate widely separated decisions. The remaining essays illustrate the use of mathematics in greater detail, principally with examples drawn from the field of economics.
A recurrent theme, implied rather than stated, is that techniques generated for some specific purpose in one branch of science can quite often be fruitfully applied in another. A second theme is that in building large economic models, the author's main concern in recent years, it is difficult to disengage the economic aspects of life from their demographic, social and psychological context. In the end, says Professor Stone, what we are really modelling is the whole socioeconomic process; while specialized studies are indispensable, they will not yield their full benefit to society until we have learnt to connect them.