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Mathematica "Uniquely Able" as a Financial Tool

Published August 24, 2000

The new generation of finance professionals is learning its skills in a new way. At many institutions, Mathematica is now an integral tool in the finance training of both students and professionals. Major corporations, government organizations, and top-ranked finance schools such as Norwich Union (based in the UK), the U.S. Federal Reserve, and Oxford University are all using Mathematica both for training and in practice. Why? Because they have all recognized what William Shaw, Director of Oxford System Solutions, states in the preface to his latest book: Mathematica is “uniquely able” as a financial modeling tool.

Shaw, who teaches applied mathematics at Oxford’s Balliol College when not directing his mathematical modeling consultancy, says that Mathematica is one of few mature software systems that combine symbolic capabilities; advanced numerical algorithms; 2D, 3D, and animated visualization; easy programming; and professional typesetting–“all within one environment.” Todd Stevenson, manager of finance and economics products at Wolfram Research, says, “There are other programs out there that do some of these things well, but Mathematica is the only one that can do them all together–and it’s powerful, flexible, and fast enough for the trading desk.”

Another effect, or possibly the cause, of the increasing usage of Mathematica in finance is the inclusion of Mathematica-based courses in the core curricula of some of the world’s top-ranked finance schools. Postgraduate programs in mathematics and finance at institutions such as Oxford University, the University of London’s Imperial College, and Columbia University are all using Mathematica in the classroom.

“There were very high expectations in this course, but by the end of the year we students were very well prepared,” said Erwann Rogard, a Ph.D. candidate specializing in mathematical finance at Columbia University, who recently completed a course in which Shaw’s book Modelling Financial Derivatives with Mathematica was used.

For those already in practice, Mathematica has become commonplace in many professional development and certification courses. The North American Society of Actuaries is currently running several courses using Mathematica as part of its 2000 Seminar Series. And again in September, Britain’s Institute of Physics, an international learned society and professional body that also provides technical and management training for employees in technology-based companies, is presenting for the third time a series of courses in quantitative finance based on Mathematica.

For many financial engineers, analysts, and risk managers, Mathematica has become the global standard. Other firms now using Mathematica in their finance training and consulting include the UK’s UNICOM and Arbitrage Research and Trading (ART); Germany’s CANdiensten, ADDITIVE GmbH, and Weber & Partner Financial Technology; and a number of newer international firms.

For more information about specific training opportunities in finance, visit the Mathematica training calendar. To learn more about why Mathematica is such an ideal tool for finance professionals, and to read about other case studies, visit the new Mathematica Solutions in Economics and Finance on our web site.