Emanuel Derman Headlines Most Recent Event in Stevens’ Financial Engineering Seminar Series


Emanuel Derman, world renowned as a founder of Quantitative Finance and Financial Engineering, was the featured speaker at Stevens Institute of Technology on December 2. As part of the ongoing Financial Engineering Seminar Series, Derman’s seminar was entitled Metaphors, Models & Theories in Science and Finance.

Almost 100 people were in attendance at this special event, including students, faculty, administration and other members of the Stevens community. Jonathan Kaufman, associate professor of QF/FE at Stevens, introduced Derman, citing his extensive and impressive bio, which includes credits such as: prominent author and speaker; quantitative analyst expert; former Managing Director and Head of the Quantitative Risk Strategies at Goldman Sachs; professor and program director of Financial Engineering at Columbia University; and Financial Engineer of the Year (2000, International Association of Financial Engineers).

Professor Kaufman continued: “We are honored to have one of the founders of Quantitative Finance and Financial Engineering here at Stevens.”  

In addition to his current role at Columbia University, Emanuel Derman is the Head of Risk at Prisma Capital Partners, a fund of funds. He obtained his PhD in theoretical physics from Columbia University in 1973 and engaged in research on particle physics at Oxford University, the University of Pennsylvania and The Rockefeller University. He joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1980, and moved to Goldman Sachs in 1985, where he subsequently led the Quantitative Strategies group, co-developing the Black-Derman-Toy interest rate model and the local volatility model. He was appointed a Managing Director in 1997. After retiring from Goldman Sachs in 2002, Derman returned to Columbia University. He is the author of the book My Life as a Quant: Reflections of Physics and Finance.

Derman’s lecture was well-received all around, from his opening definition of metaphor, to his description of the differences between models and theories. Alexandria Middleton, a freshman QF major was excited to be in attendance. She said: “I learned more about the field directly from an expert – essentially one of the founders of the field I’m studying. It was so interesting to view the field from a different aspect.”

The Financial Engineering Seminar Series is a centerpiece of the graduate Financial Engineering program and undergraduate Quantitative Finance programs at Stevens. Its mandate is to arrange talks on current research and industry trends in financial engineering and quantitative finance that will be of interest to those who work on the border of industry and academia. Topics have included derivatives valuation and high-risk frequency trading and the series has featured representation from mathematics, statistics, computer science, finance, engineering and operations research. Each seminar is organized around a single theme and the entire community is encouraged to participate.

Khaldoun Khashanah, distinguished service professor and program director of Financial Engineering, explained: “The importance of the FE Series is three-fold. We seek to bring industry to the academic world, introduce students to leading academics and practitioners in the field and frame our current research around key topics in industry.”

“Emanuel Derman’s lecture was inspirational and posed exciting challenges to all of the FE, QF and other students who were in attendance,” Professor Kaufman concluded. “This seminar was so well attended and well-received by students, staff and faculty that we were at standing room only.”