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Nobel laureate William Sharpe writing a virtual textbook -- online

STANFORD -- The shelves in Bill Sharpe's Stanford office display many of the books and papers the Nobel laureate has published in his academic career. Now, Sharpe has turned to the high-tech world of the Internet to create his latest academic work -- an electronic work-in-progress, some or all of which "might eventually become a traditional textbook."

"Right now, I have all these ideas bottled up that I haven't written down," said Sharpe. "I want to get them out and I don't want to slow down for editors and printers. It's cathartic. It's also a little like sending out a draft of a textbook chapter by chapter as you write it."

More than 2,000 browsers have tapped into Sharpe's page since he created it last winter, but for the moment he is discouraging electronic small talk. He already has made some revisions based on comments on the work, but Sharpe has posted a notice saying he won't respond to most mail at this time while he concentrates on getting his ideas down in cyberspace.

Using his personal computer and a variety of software, Sharpe has created a home page of material he warns will grow and undergo substantial revisions over time. In some cases "Macro-Investment Analysis," the work in progress, even may presume that the people browsing electronically understand information in yet-to-be written sections.

"As I work on this, I'm writing the bulk of it for my class or a future textbook," said Sharpe, whose most widely recognized textbook, Investments, is in its fifth edition.

The section of the electronic work that is least like a traditional academic paper demonstrates the effect when one of Sharpe's analytical techniques is applied to mutual funds. "I describe a technique that I developed and have written about. I've found that the most efficient way for people in the business world to understand my theory is to see what happens when you run this analysis for a group of mutual funds. You can find the fund you know the most about, see what happened when I ran my analysis and then judge whether the technique makes sense to you. The Web lends itself to that in a way that traditional academic papers and journals can't."

The address for Sharpe's electronic page is http://gsb-, or his page may be viewed through the faculty section of the Business School's home page at



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