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Let’s talk about optimization

The recent global financial crisis, considered by many economists to be the worst since the Great Depression, resulted in the collapse of large financial institutions, the bailout of banks by national governments, and downturns in stock markets around the world. This has made risk management and financial stability a foremost concern of regulatory agencies and corporations worldwide. Given the rapidly expanding scope and complexity of risk-aware management and finance, mathematical innovation is central to the field.

Optimization techniques, an emerging innovation, can serve as one of the tools for financial institutions and companies to find better solutions and improve decision-making. With this focus, Mitacs Elevate Fellow Oleksandr Romanko created an industry-academic event called ‘Optimization in Finance and Risk Management’.  

Held in Toronto just this past month, the 2-day workshop aimed to bridge the gap between academic research in optimization and practical financial and risk management applications of optimization techniques.

“The event went really well. We had around 80 registered participants from both industry and academia. It was a great experience, combined with a lot of hard work, pulling together all the aspects of this event,” remarked Oleksandr. “It was a component of my Elevate fellowship that contributed to my professional development, and was a lot of fun.”

Consisting of talks, presentations from industrial practitioners, faculty and students/postdocs and a panel discussion, the event was attended by companies such as BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank, TD Bank, Bank of America, World Bank, Algorithmics Inc., Axioma Inc. With such illustrious companies being represented, the networking and connector event at the finale of the workshop was a rousing success.

Mitacs Elevate is a two-year program, supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, that provides support to postdoctoral fellows (PDFs) working on a collaborative research project with an industry partner as well as PDFs interested in initiating an industry collaboration. In addition, Elevate PDFs take part in a customized training program to further develop their professional skills including courses in project management, communication skills, and networking skills. They also have the opportunity to investigate other areas of interest such as commercialization and entrepreneurship.

So what’s next for Oleksandr?

“Establishing research links between the industry and academia as well as promoting organizations that support such collaborations, like the Fields Institute and Mitacs, was another workshop goal. After discussions during the workshop, the idea of transforming ‘Optimization in Finance and Risk Management’ into a regular event is top of mind.”