On 29 October 2014, FDT donated the Oxford-Nie Financial Big Data Laboratory to the University of Oxford. To celebrate the event, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Andrew Hamilton, delivered the opening remarks.
PROF. XUNYU ZHOU: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Xunyu Zhou. I am the professor of mathematical finance at the Mathematical Institute. Today, we’re here to celebrate the opening of the Oxford-Nie Financial Big Data Laboratory and to listen to its inaugural lecture to be delivered by Prof. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger. I’m extremely pleased that our Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Andrew Hamilton, has come to officiate the opening. I would now like to invite the Vice Chancellor to give a few words.
PROF. ANDREW HAMILTON: Xunyu, thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s an enormous pleasure to be here in the magnificent Andrew Wiles Building of the Mathematical Institute in Oxford to welcome all of you and especially [Fanqi] Nie to celebrate the opening of the Oxford-Nie Financial Big Data Laboratory.
This is an especially important day in the life of Oxford Mathematics, but it’s particularly important because we are celebrating a partnership and a new friendship with [Fanqi] Nie and his colleagues at Financial Data Technologies Limited (FDT). We are very pleased to welcome you to Oxford. It’s a rather grey drizzly miserable day, but, hopefully, all of the exciting mathematics and science that you will see today and that will go on for months and years to come in this building will brighten all of our lives.
I think many of you in this room this afternoon were here a year ago when we opened this magnificent new building for mathematics in Oxford, and it was an opportunity to bring together all of the mathematicians throughout the university but also to have a single focal point for students, for researchers, for academics focused on mathematics with all of its beauty, all of its importance, but also all of its applications.
This setting – the Mathematical Institute – is important because right next door we have the original 18th century Radcliffe Infirmary, now the Radcliffe Humanities Building. Right behind the Mathematical Institute, we have cutting-edge science from the 1760s, and that, of course, was the Radcliffe Observatory built to follow the transit of Venus at that time. On the other side of the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, we have the brand-new Blavatnik School of Government developing research and teaching in public policy coming out of the ground in front of our eyes.
I give you these examples because what we have here on this Radcliffe Observatory Quarter is Oxford in a microcosm. We have the merging of the ancient and the modern. We have the merging of the observatory, the Radcliffe Infirmary with a very modern commitment that Oxford makes throughout the university but very much on this site – a commitment to modern science, modern mathematics, modern social science, modern policy development. There could be nothing more prevalent, more modern, and more focused on the future than the revolution in big data.
Many of you will know that, about a year ago, we celebrated another very significant philanthropic gift from China, from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, to allow us to develop on the hospital research site, the Old Road Campus, to develop the Li Ka Shing Big Data Centre for Health Information and Discovery – the application of big data to health.
Last week, some of you may have seen in the newspapers the announcement of a donation from California, from the Patrick Soon-Shiong Foundation, to allow us to establish the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Molecular Medicine focusing on genomics – the genetic information that is now being added to our analysis of and our contributions to health and medicine … Again, another example of information analytics being critical for the advancement of part of our work.
Today, we celebrate that collaboration and contribution from an enormously generous benefactor in [Fanqi] Nie, allowing us now to bring to the Mathematical Institute a very strong focus on the role of big data in finance – in financial mathematics.
All of us recognise that, in the wake of the financial crisis, the financial industry is waking up to the importance of big data – to the importance of the data that they have at their fingertips to understand and interpret the developments of the finance industry. Of course, this brings up a wealth of new research topics for quantitative financial analysis and research. The Oxford-Nie Financial Big Data Laboratory is absolutely timely in allowing us now to bring resources, to bring focus, to bring a contribution in Oxford to this world of big data as it applies to finance research.
I think all of us recognise that this is an area that will only grow in the future. It will behere that front-line data science research will take place and will be applied to finance. It will be here that a platform will be developed for research collaboration between academics, practitioners, and regulators. That Blavatnik School of Government next door will be a very important part in the future of bringing policy and financial regulation discussion also in concert with the research going on at the Oxford-Nie Financial Big Data Laboratory. It’s exactly that kind of cutting-edge research that Oxford should be engaged in. It’s exactly that kind of research that Oxford will be engaged in, and it will be participating very much because of the generosity and the commitment that FDT and [Fanqi] have made to this department, to this university, to this area of academic study.
So, on the behalf of the university, it’s an enormous pleasure for me to express the thanks of the university to you [Fanqi] specifically, to FDT, and to your colleagues for the confidence you’re showing in us through your generous commitment but also for the exciting results and the influence that those results will have in the field of mathematical finance in the future. We thank you for that, and it’s an enormous honour for me now to invite you – [Fanqi] – to the podium.