Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics and Statistics Sundar Tamang presented a paper at the Third International Conference on Applications of Mathematics to Nonlinear Sciences, held this summer in Pokhara, Nepal. His paper, “The Inverse Volatility Problem for Currency Options,” which was coauthored by his former Ph.D. advisor, proposed a new computational inverse algorithm that can help better predict financial markets.
Tamang’s travel to the conference was partly funded by the Department of Math and Computer Science and partly by a Faculty Development Fund Award.
Tamang, who is originally from Nepal, had visited Pokhara before but still marveled at the natural beauty of the area, which features not only Himalayan peaks but also scenic lakes.
Tamang said that his favorite part of the conference was “meeting with all the great mathematicians.” Because he is at the beginning of his academic career, he feels it is very important to meet other mathematicians with whom he might collaborate or share ideas. He also feels that attendance at conferences ultimately benefits the university. “I don’t like to limit myself,” he said, “I like to travel [and] meet other people, so I can listen to them and learn.” He brings back the knowledge he is learning to share with colleagues and students, and at the same time he gets to represent WNMU internationally and possibly draw more international students to the university.
Tamang came to the United States specifically to study in his academic specialization, applied mathematics, but more specifically he wanted to explore the intersection of mathematics and finance. In Nepal, said Tamang, there are not a lot of opportunities to specialize in a field like mathematics. “We have just general mathematics,” he said, “Whatever course they offer, we need to take it.” He completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there, but then earned his PhD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which allowed him to study more specialized topics in applied mathematics.
“Everything depends on application,” he said, noting the tendency in his field to privilege applied mathematics over pure knowledge. In applied mathematics, Tamang said,”we can use a mathematical formula, a mathematical theory, [or] a mathematical algorithm and apply it in a real-world scenario.”
When Tamang, who formerly was a high school teacher in Nepal, graduated from his PhD program, he was faced with the decision of choosing to work in the private sector or in the academic world. He chose the latter. “Based on my experience [teaching both in Nepal and as a graduate assistant and] based on my knowledge, I thought I should be in academics.” This choice led him to WNMU, where he has been teaching both introductory and upper-level mathematics and statistics since 2021.