CSE faculty participate in panel discussions on deep learning in finance at Lehigh Business, I-DISC event

Experts in financial engineering and quantitative finance converged at Lehigh on November 15 for a Quant/Financial Engineering Conference that addressed the challenges in today’s data-centric business environment. The conference aimed to promote the exchange of ideas in data management, data science, blockchain, deep learning and other areas. 

The conference was sponsored by the College of Business, the Perella Department of Finance, the Center for Financial Services, and the Institute for Data, Intelligent Systems and Computation (I-DISC). 

Noting that Lehigh Business promotes interdisciplinary learning, Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business, said, “The one thing we can all agree on, no matter where we come from across the university and across the industry spectrum, [is] the world of quantitative analytics and financial engineering shine a bright, complex and ever-changing light on how we conduct business.”

The conference took a “deep dive” into the ramifications of the dramatic changes underway in the financial services industry, including in the areas of mortgage lending and robo advising.  

“As we know, data is the hottest commodity now in the financial world,” Phillips said. “It’s pervasive by nature and powerful in its interpretation.” She continued, “How are we going to manage the rapid growth and importance of data in the finance area? To answer that question requires thoughtful and insightful resolution.” 

Phillips said new and developing technologies require serious conversations, including how Lehigh educators will identify and address the skills that students will need in entering the workforce following graduation.

“How are we going to give them the tools for success?” Phillips asked. “And how do we impart the necessary knowledge? This is a real big push that we're making. We're trying to change how we teach [students]. It's not enough to change just what we're teaching—that's crucial—but also the how.”

Seven panel discussions focused on deep-learning applications in finance, parallelization and data management, data analytics in securities enforcement, the impact of technology on hiring in the financial industry, distributed computing, blockchain, and data science vs. data engineering. Panelists included Lehigh faculty and industry experts.

A panel discussion on the “Impact of Technology on Hiring in the Financial Industry” centered on the finance jobs of the future and, with the ongoing technological advancements being made in the financial services industry, how students can better prepare for the workforce. 

Joining the panel were Daniel Scansaroli ’05, ’06G, ’09G, ’11 PhD, head of Portfolio Construction & Modeling and managing portfolio strategist at BlueMountain Capital; Michael Liebman ’88, director of business intelligence for Bloomberg LP; John Savage ’86, vice president of data science for Medidata Solutions; Troy Adair, professor of practice, College of Business; and Rebecca Wang, assistant professor of marketing, College of Business.

The panelists discussed how technological advancements have led to both the elimination of jobs and the creation of new jobs that revolve around technology. Scansaroli said that the new jobs require individuals to analyze models and algorithms. 

“You're now expected to come in and be everything from a computer scientist to a statistician to a data engineer,” Scansaroli said. “Now, it doesn't mean that you're an expert in all those things—in fact, most of these individuals are not, but they have a broad palette of skills that they draw on, and the people who are experts in one particular area are rising to the top as being the most successful.”

The panelists stressed the importance of finance students having a grasp on data literacy and programming languages such as Python. 

Several other Lehigh faculty joined the panel discussions: Hank Korth, professor of computer science and engineering; Hector Muñoz-Avila, professor of computer science and engineering, and of cognitive science; Roberto Palmieri, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; Neal Snow, assistant professor of accounting; and David Zhang, assistant professor of management.

Read the full story in the Lehigh University News Center

Story by Mary Ellen Alu and Kelley Barrett

Hector Muñoz-Avila

Computer science and engineering professor Hector Muñoz-Avila moderated the first session. He is also a professor of cognitive science and co-director of the Institute for Data, Intelligent Systems, and Computation (I-DISC). Photo by John Kish IV

Hank Korth

Hank Korth is a professor of computer science and engineering and co-director of the Computer Science and Business program.

Roberto Palmieri

Roberto Palmieri is an assistant professor of computer science and engineering.