The new gallium arsenide computer chips, with processing speeds nearly 10 times faster than silicon, provide plenty of food for thought to an electronics industry hungry for success. But observers still have little to chew on when they try to measure the chips' impact.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers wants to enrich the meal. It has joined with Nobel laureate Wassily Leontief of New York University's Institute for Economic Analysis on a model to help people evaluate the economic impact of research on circles as small as their own companies and as large as the world economy.

The model will apply input-output analysis-an economic method pioneered by Leontief that determines how industries interact and affect each other-to information gleaned from interviews with some 2,000 specialists in various scientific disciplines, explained Wen Chow, the Society's group director for technical affairs. The basic model, projected to include information on 150 industry...

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