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Berkeley Lab Launches New Center for Innovative Financial Technology

July 23, 2010

To help build a bridge between the computational science and financial markets communities, the Center for Innovative Financial Technology (CIFT) has been established in the Computational Research Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

CIFT will be led by David Leinweber, who was a Haas Fellow in Finance at UC Berkeley before joining Berkeley Lab in 2010. Leinweber, who has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Harvard University, may be best known as the author of "Nerds on Wall Street: Math Machines and Wired Markets" published in 2009. The Computational Research Division creates computational tools and techniques that enable scientific breakthroughs, by conducting applied research and development in computer science, computational science, and applied mathematics.

It is striking how many themes in scientific computing and networking are directly relevant to issues faced by participants in financial markets, and to governments that seek to understand, monitor and regulate them. Example of overlapping areas of interest include: Understanding Complex Systems, Simulations Driving Next Generation Technology, Discovery through Visualization, Real-time Analytics, Robust Adaptive Systems and Network Security. In the HPC context, these themes are discussed in the context of applications in many fields, such as physics, chemistry, material science, biology, climate and energy.

It is also striking how, in quite a large stack of publications focusing on high performance computing, there is no mention of markets, despite their intimate relations to technology, and common basis in high-speed large-scale information processing. Advanced computing has a great deal to offer to the world of markets, and market participants of all flavors have a great deal to gain by closer relationships with the advanced computing research community.

Financial markets and high performance computing research are a natural fit in many ways. Markets are a rich area for research. Their data volumes are huge, and their real-time requirements are at the edge of technological capabilities.

"Security and stability of markets is a national security issue of the first order. This has been made clear by recent events on both macro and micro time scales. We hope this center will stimulate discussion of these topics, and lead to a larger role for advanced computing researchers in understanding markets that have become advanced computers," says Leinweber.

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

High performance computing plays a critical role in scientific discovery, and researchers increasingly rely on advances in computer science, mathematics, computational science, data science, and large-scale computing and networking to increase our understanding of ourselves, our planet, and our universe. Berkeley Lab’s Computing Sciences Area researches, develops, and deploys new foundations, tools, and technologies to meet these needs and to advance research across a broad range of scientific disciplines.

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.