The Queen’s School of Business is of the two best business schools in Canada. I have no doubt it has brought out the best in me. It has proved to be a prudent choice for my undergraduate studies. At the end of my first year, I had the choice to transfer to Brown University if not for the Ivy League name, then perhaps for Emma Watson. But I chose to stay with Queen’s for its strong recruiting opportunities, for the unique extra-curricular experience, and for my friends.
Today is effectively the end of my third year at Queen’s. In the last five days, I wrote four exams and taught two QUIC tutorials. There is but one exam more in the off-distance. My laundry basket is overflowing in anticipation for the parental unit parade. My piano is undusted and singing again. Christmas and Paris has never seemed closer. But as happiness builds in anticipation, the far-future again comes as foreboding. This year, I will decide whether to pursue post-undergraduate studies in the field of mathematical finance.
On Thursday, I wrote the STAT 455 exam. This is the hardest course I have ever taken and therefore, there was much self-affirmation to be accomplished. I needed to believe I will succeed in mathematical finance. Stochastic Processes is a branch of probability concerned with randomness in time. A Random Walk, for example, is a stochastic process. I entered the Grant Hall with as much determination as ever and left unresolved. I returned home and modelled the problem on EXCEL (with YASAI); I have never been so happy to see a Poisson distribution (4b). I might have let out a barbaric yawp.
A queuing question casually made an appearance (Q3). It extended the single-server model of COMM 341 by modelling in a probability that customers facing a longer line are less likely to join. There are no formula sheets. The problem is to derive the formulae.
To do this is not simple but it was the simplest question on the exam. To focus on understanding concepts instead of plug-and-chug arithmetic is rewarding. For one, formulae need not be memorized. Assumptions are thoroughly considered. Finally, it is broad and wide-ranging in scope. And that is the chief criticism I have of Commerce education. What we learn is almost exclusively a special case, i.e. a star in the night sky. One clearly overshadows the other. It all makes what we learn in Commerce a bit frivolous.
In the last month, I had the pleasure of meeting the creator of http://qcumber.ca/ and a diverse group of students from other faculties. We played the ubiquitous exchange game called Contact and words like “Realpolitik” and “Carthage” made appearances. What a refreshing change from “Franklin Templeton”. Commerce was a resoundingly positive decision. And these experiences propel me to seriously consider something similar but a bit different.