The Centre for Computational Finance and Economic Agents (we call it CCFEA, pronounced like "severe") was officially opened on 17 October 2002. It was opened by Ivor Crewe, the Vice Chancellor then. CCFEA started to admit PhD students in the same year; it took on Master students in 2003. At the moment, we have 61 students registered, which includes 40 Masters and 21 PhDs*. CCFEA's research has been ahead of the game in many research ideas; the talks today will provide some evidence. Many institutes have offered computational finance teaching after CCFEA. That seems to suggest that we have done something right.
Many people have played pivotal roles in the development of CCFEA. CCFEA was built on the foundation of the Institute for Studies in Finance, which was established by Professor Michael Dempster when he was at the Mathematics Department. After Michael left for Cambridge, I coordinated the activities. Recognising the value of interdisciplinary research, four people from four Departments held regular research meetings. They were Giulia Iori (who was at the Accounting, Finance and Management Department; she is now with the City University), Abdel Salhi (Mathematics Department), Sheri Markose (Economics Department) and myself (Computer Science Department).
Without the support of Sir Ivor Crewe (then Vice Chancellor), CCFEA would not have been created. Unfortunately Ivor can't come today due to prior engagements; but he sent us the following message:
My warmest congratulations to the CCFEA on reaching its 10th birthday in such robust good health. It is immensely gratifying that what started out as no more than a gleam in the eye of Michael Dempster, Sheri Markose and Edward Tsang has, as a result of their vision and determination, become one of the world's leading centres for teaching and research in computational finance. It is wonderful that in the relatively short period of ten years so many students from across the globe have graduated from the Centre and gone on to careers of influence and innovation in the financial, IT and academic sectors. I see nothing but a bright future for the CCFEA, one in which it will continue to be as pioneering and dynamic in the next decade as it has been in the last.
CCFEA wouldn't have achieved so much without one person's perseverance and "can't fail" mentality. That person is Sheri Markose (Economics Department), CCFEA's first Director. She bulldozed through many obstacles that would have deterred most people. In its infancy, CCFEA benefited from steering by Michael Sherer (then Pro Vice Chancellor) and support by the City Associates. CCFEA's first grant, a £5,000 scholarship by Nick Constantinou (HSBC at the time) made a lot of difference.
CCFEA has been built up by dedicated colleagues, past and present. Dietmar Maringer, our ex-colleague (Basel University, who is going to give a talk today) has left a lot of his intellectual influence in colleagues and PhD students. Wing Lon Ng, CCFEA's current Deputy Director, provides the most reliable support, both intellectually and administratively that the Centre needs. With John O'Hara and Steve Phelps, CCFEA works as a harmonious unit today. I am very lucky to be working with them.
No one has had more influence on my research agenda than Richard Olsen (who is going to give a talk today). I have learned a lot from Richard. I feel very lucky to be working with him.
You know your teaching is alright when you see your students shine. CCFEA students have made significant research impacts everywhere. Today, three of our Alumni, Serafin Martinez Jaramillo (Mexican Central Bank), Amadeo Alentorn (Old Mutual Asset Managers) and Evi Pliota (HSBC) will tell us their work.
Some students have told me that CCFEA is more than a centre; they feel that it is also a family. One person has contributed most in making the Centre a home. That is Lynda Triolo. She has supported the Centre with love and diligence. She is responsible for packing students with fond memories when they leave.
Computation plays a significant part in finance and economics. Its importance can only increase. This interdiciplinary Centre is in an excellent position to advance knowledge in computational finance. CCFEA has made a lot of impact in the last ten years. I hope we have exponentially more to say in ten years' time.