Quantitative Risk major

UNSW Mathematics and Statistics has taken the lead in setting up undergraduate education in Quantitative Risk. This emerging field deals with risk in the banking, financial and related areas, as Actuarial Studies does in life insurance. The Basel II compliance regime in banking has increased the demand for skills in the area.

The financial crisis of 2008 shows the urgent need for high-level skills in the evaluation of risk.

The School contributes a new core course, MATH2881 Quantitative Risk (2nd year undergraduate), and the School of Banking and Finance provides a new third year course on Behavioural Finance. A number of existing courses in actuarial studies, statistics, accountancy etc also go to make up the major.

The Quantitative Risk major (and the Advanced Science Advanced Mathematics plan) is a high-UAI major and is restricted to students with a UAI of 95 or higher and with excellent Mathematics Extension 2 marks. Top Extension 1 students may be considered.

Plan of the QR major

SAS logo
CBA logo
SAS and the CBA have agreed to help the School develop the new core course in Quantitative Risk. Other partners from the financial world are invited to contribute to the program, through sponsorship and the provision of course advice and visiting speakers. Prospective partners should contact Prof James Franklin.

There is an article on quantitative risk and UNSW's involvement in the March 2007 issue of Actuary Australia (pp. 10-11).

QR Event All associated with the QR program are invited to an informal event Wed 21 Oct 2008, 1pm, at UNSW. Prospective students welcome. Rsvp to j.franklin@unsw.edu.au

The Statistics Behind the Lottery

As Australians gear up for the biggest lottery of all time, Dr David Warton of UNSW's School of Mathematics and Statistics has already crunched the numbers, and the results are not as encouraging as most Australians would want them to be.

"The chance of winning from a game of Oz Lotto is about one in 45 million," states Dr Warton.

"To get a sense of how small that it, consider what would happen if I dumped two reams (1000 pages) of A4 paper onto every seat at the Sydney Cricket Ground and asked you to take a guess at which is the one 'winning' page out of the four truckloads of paper that I have scattered all around the SCG.

"What you have there is about a one in 45 million chance of winning -- and an awful mess.

"If I forgot where the winning page was and had to check each page individually to find it, it would probably take me over three years (closer to two years if I worked weekends)."

For more information, please see:

The Daily Telegraph



Good luck

It's a Math World

Cowan Heights Elementary is a K-6 elementary school with over 400 students. It is located in the Eastern School District, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. This group of 120 students learned “It's A Math World” in conjunction with their 100th day of school activities and as part of their promotion of math in our everyday lives. The song was written by Eastern School District personnel Susan Ryan and Susan Murray. The students have enjoyed learning this song. We hope you like it.

It's a Math World

Looking for patterns is a strategy
Solving problems is a part of me
From the tiles on the floor, to the quilt on my bed
Everywhere I go, I’ve got math in my head.

It’s a math world, everywhere I look!
It’s a math world, not just in my book!
It’s a math world, come and see!
It’s a math world, for you and me!

C’est un monde des maths partout
C’est un monde des maths à vous
C’est un monde des maths viens voir
C’est un monde des maths à nous

There are all kinds of angles for you to know
And the world is full of angles, everywhere you go
Acute, obtuse, right and straight
In a world of measurement, they are first rate!

Data Management and Probability
Are used in sports continuously
Graphing scores high and low
Making predictions as we go!

Computing in your head is really smart
Pencils and computers also play a part
Mental math and estimation – part of our scene
Using them all keeps our minds real keen.

Incalculable benefits

Dalhousie grad Richard Hoshino, who helped start Math Circles six years ago, demonstrates how to solve a math problem using high school students in attendance at the event. (Nick Pearce Photo)

One of Dalhousie’s most successful high school outreach programs is about to reach a whole lot more students.

Math Circles began six years ago as an initiative put together by grad students in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics under the watchful eye of Professor Richard Nowakowski. The idea was simple in theory, exciting in execution: open Dalhousie’s doors to HRM high school math students several times a year, at no cost to them, and have professors and graduate students lead them through interactive activities that demonstrate the real-world application of advanced math concepts, from game theory to cryptology.

That the program has been such a hit doesn’t surprise Dr. Nowakowski, an enthusiast in both the art and the science of teaching mathematics.

“Problem solving is so much fun!” he says with a gleam in his eye. “Everyone loves solving something – the experience of bashing your head against a brick wall and seeing it start to crumble just a bit, helping your way to the light and breaking on through.”

The program is popular not just with the students, but their teachers. “It presents problem solving in a way that’s fun, and often different than what they often get in the classroom,” explains Nicholas Down, who teaches math at J.L. Ilsley High School in Halifax. “It’s great to see what kinds of ideas these students pick up from getting to explore some of these higher intellectual concepts.”

Since 2005, Math Circles has been run by Angela Siegel, a PhD student of Dr. Nowakowski’s. As her degree program reaches its end, she’s been hired as program director to guide the Math Circles program through an expansion that hopes to leave a lasting legacy for math students across Nova Scotia. With the support of Dalhousie faculty and staff, she will be leading the development of a series of flexible, dynamic sessions that will then be taken on the road and test-driven in high schools across the province. The end result: a program that can be adapted by high school teachers as part of their own curriculum.

“What’s exciting is the opportunity to reach so many students with an interest in math that we’ve never been able to before,” says Ms. Siegel. “We’ve gotten so many requests to take part in this program, and we’ve always been disappointed that we could never bring this experience to others. And now we can – it’s like magic!”

That magic is made possible thanks to the Imperial Oil Foundation, which is donating $400,000 over four years to support the expansion of the Math Circles program.

“We’re a science-based company, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day,” said Monica Samper, president of the Imperial Oil Foundation, at an event to celebrate the arrangement last week. “We need to live in a country with a science-based population…if (Canada) wants to stay competitive, we need to spark the imaginations of this generation in the sciences and mathematics.”

For the faculty, staff and students who have made Math Circles a success thus far, achieving that “spark” in the imaginations of high school students is what drives them to make the program bigger and better.

“For me, it’s all about the smiles on high school students’ faces when they see the light, when they realize how math is useful in their daily lives,” says Ms. Siegel. "It always bothers me when I hear a student ask if they’ll ever make use of math after they’re done with school. No one who attends a Math Circles session will leave thinking that."

By Ryan McNutt

My Community


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