Applied mathematics Ph.D. candidate “Tony” Jiménez Rugama is a native of Barcelona, Spain, where unemployment was more than 45 percent for people ages 18-25 in 2016.
But he has found a wealth of opportunity at Illinois Tech. Jiménez Rugama has done research, interned at a national laboratory, led a student group, and co-organized a student conference. He also met faculty who connected him with Chicago’s financial community as he prepares to continue his career as an applied mathematician in the financial services sector.
“I come from a warmer place,” Jiménez Rugama said. “But Chicago is great. There is so much opportunity here.”
Jiménez Rugama came to Illinois Tech to work with Fred Hickernell, chair and professor of applied mathematics and one of the world’s leading experts in quasi-Monte Carlo (QMC) methods. Jiménez Rugama’s thesis focuses on efficient QMC for high dimensional and infinite dimensional integration. This task arises in many application areas including financial risk management. Jiménez Rugama also worked on Hickernell’s GAIL (Guaranteed Automatic Integration Library) software, developing automatic quasi-Monte Carlo cubature algorithms via discrete transforms (http://gailgithub.github.io/GAIL_Dev/).
Beyond research, Jiménez Rugama did an internship at Fermi National Accelerator Lab on QMC error estimation for the top quark mass measurement and development of a C++ package for the error estimation (http://mcuncert.hepforge.org/). As president of IIT’s Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), he co-organized several events, including the Chicago Area SIAM Student Conference (CASSC) for graduate and undergraduate students run jointly with University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University.
Through it all, the applied mathematics department provided him with a supportive community. “Applied math at IIT is a small department,” he said. “We know each other; we are friends.” Once he decided to pursue a job in industry, faculty gave him an assist. “Fred [Hickernell], Tom [Bielecki] and Igor [Cialenco] from our mathematical finance program were very helpful,” Jiménez Rugama added.
Jiménez Rugama hopes to find a job in which he can not only apply mathematics, but define how to apply it. “Math offers powerful tools,” he noted. “But you have to know which one to use. I would like to be one of the people who defines how the tools are used.”