From the Dean

From the Dean

Dean Frank Chen

The work of the management sciences is the forecasting, planning, management and decision-making of business operations. This field has evolved relatively recently, and in this issue we are fortunate enough to carry an interview with our founding head, Professor Wai-kee Kam, who tells the story of how the "MS" department got its name. Established back in 1984 as "Mathematics and Science," we were successively known as "Applied Mathematics," and then "Applied Statistics and Operations Research." Only in 1997 were we renamed to embrace the emerging field of "Management Sciences." This genealogy reflects the way in which maths and statistics have become increasingly operationalised over the decades, to the point that they are today fundamental to decision-making in business operations – and indeed essential to the digitalised global economy.

This issue of City Business Magazine ranges from deceptively simple management science topics to the more obviously complex. In How to make the best decision – Choose one from many or combine them all? Head of Department, Professor Alan Wan, argues that combining statistical models offers advantages in forecasting compared to selection of a single model. He suggests that this approach will likely become part of the statistician's standard toolkit in the future. Weaving personal narrative with a description of latest industry developments, in Alternative data, federated learning and supply chain finance, Professor Houmin Yan anticipates that supply chain finance is the next promising domain for AI and machine learning applications. It will indeed be interesting to see if the concept of federated learning can provide a distributed machine learning environment that will in the future prevent the kinds of massive data leakages that we still see today.

Over the years, whilst teaching – along with research – has formed the bedrock of the Management Sciences mission, the advent of quantitative analysis has brought with it many challenges in teaching-learning methodology. The unrivalled reach and functionality of AI can push human agency into the background. In Driving analytics by insight, Professor David Li, advocates redressing the balance. He sees the role of business insights as central to students gaining a more holistic view of business problems.

There is no hotter topic than hot money, and in Rethinking cryptocurrencies, Dr Simon Trimborn takes a critical look at cryptocurrencies, arguing that they have strayed far from their initially conceived role as digital payment systems. Indeed, the very name "cryptocurrencies" suggests that these tokens are primarily deployed as currencies. So, will any of the current cryptocurrency uses prevail, or will new use opportunities arise?

Interdisciplinary research in deep learning and asset pricing factor investing has attracted a lot of interest in recent years, and Dr Gavin Feng has gained attention for his work in discriminating between useful and redundant investment factors. In Deep learning in empirical asset pricing, he takes the enquiry further with a look at the construction of asset pricing factors using a bottom-up deep learning model.

Many years ago, as Professor Yan-chong Chan reminisces in Operational research, statistics and big data, students were heard to ask "What kind of job can I find after graduating from operational research?" Nowadays, students no longer express concern! They are eminently employable in what is perhaps the foundational discipline of our times.

I do hope you enjoy this expansive celebration of the Management Sciences!

Frank Chen