UCL Mathematics students in winning team at the 2017 Financial Mathematics Team Challenge in Cape Town
28 September 2017
Top students from across the world competed in the 4th annual Financial Mathematics Team Challenge (FMTC) which was held this summer in Cape Town. The event, which is jointly organised by UCL Mathematics and the University of Cape Town (UCT), was won by a team which included UCL student Yann Guguen, who worked on the FMTC project Realistic Risk Parity and called the FMTC "an amazing experience".
The organisers at UCL and UCT selected their best postgraduate students to take part in the challenge, and organised them into mixed teams. The teams were each given a research problem, and seven working days to solve it. The problems are challenging and are materially impossible for one person to solve. At the end of the seven days the participants gave a presentation and produce a report, often 40-60 pages in length, summarising their findings. Glen Point Capital LLP, a London-based hedge fund, proposed one of the research problems and provided funding in support of the 2017 FMTC.
Aditya Singh was a participating student who worked on a project involving machine learning techniques. He said the most rewarding part of the FMTC was the presentation saying, "I really felt a sense of strong achievement and satisfaction when I had the opportunity to present and explain the outcome of our challenge to a group of brilliant mathematical minds, whether it be the students or the esteemed professors. Being able to explain all the results of our labour and receiving such positive feedback was definitely a fruitful experience".
Dr Andrea Macrina (UCL Mathematics) says, "What we didn't anticipate was that we can clearly see students who have done the FMTC go through quite a lot of transformation in the sense that we can see they are much more mature, they are much more independent in their work, they are much more able to keep to schedules, to work under high time pressure."
These "soft skills" help prepare students for work in industry, and members from professional organisations are invited to attend the FMTC presentations. UCL student, Yupeng Jiang, led a team that developed an early warning system for financial crises. After their presentation, members of his team were approached by hedge fund managers who were interested in developing the system further.
Jiang also said that the FMTC was a great opportunity for those who are considering careers in research, saying, "In the seven short days you can collaborate with some great researchers and supervised by amazing professors, which can give you an insight into what your life could be like if you were doing a PhD".