## financial mathematics

Deciding who is to blame and who should pay for the financial crisis will be a hot topic at the G8 next week. Financial mathematics received a lot of bad press in the aftermath of the crunch and many believe that it was the popularity of mathematical models – often borrowed from physics — that put the financial system at risk. But now models borrowed from biology are helping us understand how this risk might be reduced.

Many people's impression of mathematics is that it is an ancient edifice built on centuries of research. However, modern quantitative finance, an area of mathematics with such a great impact on all our lives, is just a few decades old. The Isaac Newton Institute quickly recognised its importance and has already run two seminal programmes, in 1995 and 2005, supporting research in the field of mathematical finance.

Why does a financial mathematician think about birds when trying to understand the grounding of aeroplanes after the Icelandic volcano eruption?

**Tim Johnson**was drawn into financial maths, not through an interest in finance, but because he was interested in making good decisions in the face of uncertainty. Tim explores the development of this interface between abstract mathematics and our everyday lives, and explains why a painting may only be worth its wall space.

**Angus Brown**looks at one of these, a simple model for option pricing, and explains how it takes us on the road to the famous Black-Scholes equation of financial mathematics, which won its discoverers the 1997 Nobel Prize in Economics.

**Colva Roney-Dougal**explores the maths, from chaos to group theory.