Monday, August 17, 2009

Financial and Economic Networks, Executive Education at Harvard University and the World Bank, Science Magazine, and a Fulbright in Italy

Some of you may have seen Science magazine's special issue on Complex Systems and Networks, which was published on July 24, 2009. Coincidentally, that was the same day that I was teaching a course on Portfolio Optimization at Harvard University in its Executive Education AMDP program at the Graduate School of Design. In constructing the material for this course I assembled volumes of relevant literature and also made use of the following books that I had co-authored: Financial Networks: Statics and Dynamics and Fragile Networks: Identifying Vulnerabilities and Synergies in an Uncertain World, and the book, Innovations in Financial and Economic Networks, that I had edited. Information on these books, as well as on my Network Economics book can be found here.

In the special issue of Science there is also an article on Economic Networks, in which the authors argue the importance of this theme. However, the special issue has no contributions from the operations research and management science communities who have been principal contributors to the networks literature for over 50 years! Interestingly, last year I was invited by Professor Michael Trick of Carnegie Mellon University to comment on an article published in Operations Research by Professor David Alderson of the Naval Postgraduate School and did so. The article argued for closer collaborations across disciplines in the area of network science. The link to the article along with the commentaries can be found here. Professor Alderson was one of the invited speakers in the Dynamic Networks workshop that I organized with Professor David Parkes of Harvard, under the auspices of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study programs. This workshop brought together physicists, computer scientists, economists, operations researchers, and applied mathematicians to discuss frontier topics in dynamic networks. Last year, I had the distinct honor of being a Fulbright Senior Specialist at the University of Catania in Italy and with Professor Patrizia Daniele organized a Workshop on Complex Networks.

Towards the goal of further disseminating state-of-the-art research on networks in economics and finance I am sharing with you my lectures on Portfolio Optimization and on Network Economics, given, respectively, at Harvard University and at the World Bank.

Given how many important problems there are in the world to solve it makes no sense to be reinventing the wheel. Disciplines need to give credit where credit is due and to work together. Both my Portfolio Optimization course and Network Economics course lectures highlight the richness and depth of network analysis and what it can bring to the formulation, analysis, and solution of critical problems that we are facing today.