Columbia-NYU Financial Engineering Colloquium brings emerging research to wider audience

The Columbia-NYU Financial Engineering Colloquium, which launched on February 21, 2024, near the start of the spring semester, is a joint initiative between Finance and Risk Engineering (FRE) at Tandon and Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) at Columbia, two highly regarded academic departments engaged in applying mathematical models to complex sectors with real-world importance.   

While some might suppose that the two New York City-based schools might be bitter rivals, fighting for dominance in their disciplines, nothing could be further from the truth. “We have a long history of collaborative research,” FRE Department Chair Nizar Touzi explains, “and we share common scholarly goals.”

Each department had organized a popular seminar series, with Tandon’s named in honor of the late professor and industry luminary Peter Carr, and when Touzi realized that the two events drew roughly the same audience, he knew that it would be more efficient on a practical level — and more illuminating in terms of the discussions sparked — to organize one larger seminar. “By unifying our teams, this colloquium has the potential to be one of the most visible and influential seminars in New York City,” Touzi asserts. “It will highlight our research at the best international standards, encourage research collaboration with industry partners, and attract the brightest, most motivated graduate students to our universities.”

The enormously successful kick-off event featured Princeton University Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering Mete Soner, whose talk was entitled  “Synchronization Games,” and Assistant Professor Wenpin Tang of IEOR, who discussed contractive diffusion models and score matching by continuous reinforcement learning.

Although it’s still early in the process — the next seminar is scheduled to take place on March 20 — organizers hope that the joint colloquium will increase the critical mass of attendees, lead to greater international visibility, and introduce a growing cohort of financial professionals to the most current research and cutting-edge techniques. “Columbia and NYU are addressing some of the world’s most challenging industry issues,” Touzi says, “and we want as many people as possible to have the benefits of our findings.”