March 3, 2011

BU Life and Math Finance

Post by:

Rob Pierce
MS in Mathematical Finance Candidate

Hi Everyone! I am a new Graduate Assistant at the GAO, and I am a first year student in the Mathematical Finance Program! I just wanted to chime in with a few comments about my experience here at BU.

First let me give you a little background so you know where I’m coming from:

I grew up in the Boston area, just South of the city; In High School I was really interested in Finance and Marketing, but at heart, I was a Science geek; I went on to study Physics and Geology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst; I bridged my interests in Science and Finance through the Mathematical Finance program here at BU!

So, did I make the right decision?

I’m confident that I did.

The Math Finance program here at BU is extremely difficult, but is also extremely rewarding. I’m sure that if you’ve already been accepted, or if you’re researching the program for the first time, that this was one of the first things you learned about the program. But then again, why would you be applying to Graduate School if you weren’t expecting a lot of work? I’ve already met some great friends, great Professors, and of course Boston is the greatest city in the world!

Anyway, let me tell you about our courses. We just finished our first semester where we studied Fundamental Theory in Finance, Probability Theory, Fundamental Stochastic Calculus, and Optimization in Economic Theory. These courses were deeply involved with the Mathematics needed to understand real world financial applications, and less involved with the applications themselves. The hardest course, in my opinion, was Stochastic Calculus since this had the most theory, much of which we were seeing for the first time. But, the professor of that course, Dr. Kostas Kardaras, was a very formidable teacher and definitely up to the task! Overall we had some late nights working on homework assignments, but we all got through it!

Since the spring semester has only just begun, I can’t really say much about our courses now. We are taking Programming in C++, Fixed Income Securities, Statistical Methods applied to Finance and Economics, and Stochastic Optimal Control Theory. The courses are definitely starting to move towards teaching real world applications of the Mathematics we learned in the first semester. And, obviously, the Math is still there, and what we are learning is also building on what we learned in the first semester. For example, Stochastic Calculus is still everywhere!!! There will be more to come about our courses this semester.

The other really important aspect of our education right now is the hunt for an Internship. This is arguably the most demanding aspect of our lives right now because we are all competing to work for some really fantastic companies in Boston and other parts of the world. We are learning some great advice about how to present ourselves to companies, what life is like on the job (for example, two gentleman from Fidelity told us about their work life, and what we need to learn to be like them), and also how to build our résumés. I’ll let you know more about this in the future as well.

As for life in Boston, I love it, but I grew up here, so I might be a little biased. It’s still pretty cold, but it hasn’t snowed in a couple of weeks. We can finally see the ground beneath all of the snow we got in December and January. Now that we are getting back into the swing of things, we are starting do more activities together outside of classes. We have had some functions at restaurants/bars, we are spending time at the BU gym (which is amazing!).

All in all, things are great, but still very difficult! Diligence is necessary, but with it good things will come.

Until next time,


About the author:

Rob Pierce is a first year, full time Mathematical Finance (MSMF) student. He graduated from UMass Amherst in 2010, where he Majored in Physics. While at Umass, he analyzed models that predict future climate change in Antarctica due to global warming scenarios. In his free time, Rob likes running, going out with friends in the city, playing fantasy sports, and listening to classic rock music on his iPod.

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