Being a weblog devoted to a variety of topics. Including Mathematics. And Mathematical Finance. Sometimes with homework.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

21-260: Final Exam

The final exam schedule has been sent out. Our exam will be on Friday, December 12 from 1:00-4:00pm. Please take that into account when making your travel plans. I'll post an update when the room is announced.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Academic Presentations

Academic Development has asked me to pass along the following announcement:

How do you prepare for academic presentations?

What tips/advice would help you to become a more effective public

Join this SERIES OF THREE (3) workshops and learn how to:
* Communicate clearly with academic audiences
* Become comfortable with public speaking
* Assess your own strengths and weaknesses
* Receive presentation feedback

Dates: Tuesdays -- Oct 28, Nov 4, and Nov 11
Time: 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Register online

Friday, October 24, 2008

21-260: Assignment for Week #10

The reading and homework assignment for Week #10 is now available.

UPDATE: For a few of the problems, I instruct you to "convert to system." By that, I mean for you to convert the second order equation to a first order system, solve the system, and extract the solution to the second order equation. I hope that makes things more clear.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Exam #2 Review Session

The review session for Exam #2 will be tonight, Monday, October 20, from 7:00-8:30, in PH 100. Bring your questions.

Exam #1 Grades

It has been brought to my attention that I never made the Exam #1 grades available on the Blackboard site. I've corrected that. They're available now.

I usually hide the grades while they are being recorded, and until I'm able to announce grade cutoffs in class. I'll try to make sure to reveal them more promptly next time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't Panic

Martin Mayer, in the Wall Street Journal, lists the Five Best books about panics in financial markets. "These works on financial meltdowns have lost none of their value," says Mayer.

David Fisher, in a letter to the Editor, adds one more.

Exam Regrades

If you've submitted your Exam #1 for regrading, it is available for you now. I wasn't able to get them back to your TA's begore recitations this morning, but the grades are updated on the Blackboard site. You can pick up your exam from my office sometime today or tomorrow.


They say the apple never falls far from the tree. I wonder about acorns. (more)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another Analysis of the Financial Crisis

In Forbes. This one is by our own Prof. Steve Shreve.

Exam #2

The second midterm exam will be given in class on Wednesday, October 22. I've posted a review page. I'm working on scheduling a review session for Monday evening, I'll post an update when I know the details.


One of you classmates reminds us that care must be taken when dealing with direction fields

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Assignment for Week #8

The reading and homework for Week #8 have been posted. You can follow the link from the Schedule page.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Book Report - Imperium

I recently finished reading Imperium by Robert Harris. The events in the book recount Cicero's rise to power in the turbulent political scene of first century Rome.

I read his book Pompeii some time ago and it was quite engaging. In Pompeii, a Roman engineer must determine why the aqueduct in Misenum has run dry. It turns out (no surprise to any mildly informed reader) that the problem is related to the impending eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. (Many other interesting things happen along the way.)

Imperium is somewhat different - more historical and less fiction than Pompeii. Harris claims that nothing in the book contradicts historically recorded events, and, moreover, he claims that every potentially verifiable event actually happened. I don't know about that, but the story coincides with everything I know about Roman history.

Making comparisons between our nation and times and events in ancient Rome is a common hobby. One needs to be careful when doing this. Our culture and times are very different from the period described in this book. Nonetheless there are some useful conclusions one can draw. One of the most important lessons that history teaches is that human nature never changes. With that in mind, this book shows in a fun, entertaining and educational way how even the most naked power grab can be cloaked in high minded rhetoric.

If you will be voting this November, I recommend that you read this book, and take another close look at our two candidates before you do so.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The BSCF Application Deadline Approaches

A reminder: The Fall 2008 deadline for applications to the BSCF major is Monday,October 13. That is the Monday before the Mid-Semester Break. Electronic applications may be sent to, or hard copies can be put in Dr. Handron's mailbox in the Mathematical Sciences department office, WEH 6113.

Financial Crisis Revisited

A few days ago I noted Theodore Seto's explanation of the current financial crisis. Today I'd like do point you to Megan McCardle's explanation. Here's one important bit:

What we need, fundamentally, is not simply stricter regulation or less greedy bankers. What we need is better economic theory of how these things play out, so that the regulators have better tools to assess and prevent systemic risk.[emphasis mine]

Thus is demonstrated the old adage: the flip-side of crisis is opportunity. At least for you finance students!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

21-260: Assignment for Week #7

The assignment for Week #7 has been posted.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Whad would he do?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Financial Crisis

Theodore Seto, A professor of tax law and policy at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, has written a nice explanation of the causes of our current financial meltdown. It is fairly impartial in it's assessment, though clouded in a few aspects by the authors politics. Read the comments, and make your own assessment.

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