Program Philosophy - Business Mathematics

The Philosophy of the Program of Studies

A short history of the program

The program started operating in 1999. Its structure owes much to the pioneering programsin Mathematical Finance and Business Studies with a strong quantitative dimension, as for instance the Mathematical Finance Program at Columbia University, the MBA program at the MIT’s Sloan School and the Production Engineering Program at Boston University. Several colleagues influenced the program’s structure, and we mention Professors M. Caramanis, J. Karatzas, A. Odoni, J. Tsitsiklis as well as the late R. Aliprantis.

The program was supported in its first years by EU funding under the auspices of the EPEAEK program, as a project under the direction of Prof. S. Negrepontis of the Mathematics Department of the University of Athens. This funding allowed the program to waive tuition for the first two years of its operation.

The goals of the Program

The program of study intends to prepare mainly for a professional career. It does not aim to prepare its graduates for a career in the academia – although such a career is not ruled out, as evidenced by several of our graduates that hold distinguished academic and research positions. An subsidiary, ambitious goal is to introduce to everyday business practice sophisticated quantitative decision making techniques

Achievements so far

Most graduate programs are proud of the careers of their alumni, and so are we. It is admittedly difficult to determine the contribution of any studies program to the career of its alumni, who might have had a successful career regardless of their graduate or undergraduate studies. It is appropriate to keep in mind Kenneth Arrow’s and Michael Spence’s works, where it is stated that education might be more usefully considered as a filter rather than as an educational process per se.

Regardless of the above, this graduate program is well respected among practitioners in Greece, and hopefully its recognition will keep increasing. Furthermore, it has definitely contributed to the successful career switch of many science students. It is to be noted that since this program’s beginning, several other similar programs have appeared in Greece.

Some negative aspects of the program: Due to locational constraints, students meet at classrooms located at several different buildings (but do not have to move to different parts of Athens in the same day). Due to our desire to keep tuition to reasonable levels (currently the tuition is about 4 thousand euros for full time students) the program’s is operating on a very tight budget, but still facing stiff competition from similar programs that do not charge tuition. Finally, the concept of a quantitative MBA is still not well established in Greece.

Who should apply - The academic environment

Our regulations state that perspective students should preferably hold an undergraduate degree in Mathematics, Physics, Economics, Computer Science or Engineering. But they may hold any undergraduate degree provided the applicant has the prerequisites for successful completion of a quantitative methods oriented graduate program. The most important parameter we take into account is the applicant’s aptitude for mathematics, coupled with a desire to see concrete managerial applications of quantitative methods. We are happily surprised whenever students graduating at the top of a class had a weak mathematics background.

In the spirit of several graduate programs preparing for a career in management, the pace of the program is brisk. We consider that this pace contributes to the students\' preparation for a career in management. We also try to help create strong bonds among the students: a summer school is held in a summer resort for a week in July where in addition to classes the students have increased opportunity to interact.

Also, we always try to strike the proper balance between rigorous mathematics and relevance for the managerial practice. This balance is difficult to achieve, and perhaps our goal can be stated as to provide a credible explanation of methodologies taught, the necessary assumptions for their applicability and the risks involved. Paraphrasing John Nash, "..Use of quantitative methods could be dangerous in relation to human behaviour if they were followed too naively or if they were applied maybe where they shouldn\'t be applied"

Nash’s original quote: ".. Game Theory could be dangerous in relation to human behaviour if it were followed too naively or if it were applied maybe where it shouldn't be applied"