Beh Le Hao is currently a first year undergraduate reading BSc Actuarial Science at London School of Economics and Political Science. This personal statement was part of his successful application to LSE and City University of London for Actuarial Science, UCL for Mathematics and Statistics and University of Warwick for MORSE.
How do professional sports gambling syndicates use multiple regression analyses to predict outcomes reliably to earn income? Why are they so confident that the risks taken will be rewarded? I am intrigued by these questions and my interest prompted me to do some independent research into statistics. I was fascinated by how Bayes’ Theorem applies conditional probability to sports betting in order to make predictions. I am curious about how models are used to combine qualitative and quantitative data with such precision, even with the large number of random variables that affects results. M. Lewis’ ‘The Moneyball’ illustrates how the Oakland Baseball team won by assembling a group of undervalued players that matched the skills needed to succeed. What really fascinates me was how they established a new method of statistical analysis using varied key performance data points to evaluate players. I am frequently amazed by the power of statistics and how it can completely change people’s perspectives and views of traditional games. It is clear to me that such modelling can have similar impacts on organisational change in business too. My desire to broaden my knowledge is what drives me to apply for a course in Maths and Statistics.
Statistics is particularly useful when discussing the 2008 financial crisis. The housing bubble, created from the sheer volume of unrepayable loans, could have been avoided if banks had reacted to the increased rate of default and statistical uncertainty. I feel they did not recognise the importance of statistics: banks had the knowledge they needed about their loanees, and knew they were taking huge risks, but approved loans anyway in pursuit of profit. However, I am also aware that the exponential increases in the amount of data available can also develop overconfidence, leading to predictive inaccuracies. I am really interested in how actuaries apply their knowledge to risk minimisation, which is such an essential feature of today’s world.
Reading ‘The Great Mathematical Problems’ by I. Stewart, I encountered problems that have puzzled mathematicians for centuries, while also learning about the fundamental equations that shape our understanding of the world. My particular fascination with the randomness of prime numbers led me to explore more challenging and stimulating concepts, such as Goldbach’s Conjecture and Riemann Hypothesis. It is intriguing how the unproven Riemann zeta function, by proving all non-trivial zeros lie along the critical line, provides a way to encode the prime number theorem. In Statistics, I enjoy applying hypothesis testing to determine data’s reliability. In Decision Maths, I am drawn towards the intuitive nature of dynamic programming. I was left intrigued by how an algorithm can work backwards to reach an optimal solution; I had never thought in that way before.
My internship at a corporate finance company reinforced my interest in statistical analysis in the field of investment banking. I learned how analysing historical data helps evaluate the profitability of transactions. Their use of spreadsheets and presentations in order to value companies and track changing trends in a volatile industry was impressive. I had to independently conduct my own research, looking for patterns and links within data, which taught me a great deal.
I have learnt programming languages, such as C++, independently from a young age. I enjoy participating in Maths competitions including the Olympiad, ICAS and Kangaroo Maths. I play the piano to Grade 6; this requires focus and persistence, and has greatly improved my memorisation skills. As School Basketball Captain and a School Prefect, I have developed my leadership, communication and teamwork skills.
As a curious, open-minded and committed student, I am excited about furthering my passion for Maths and Statistics at a first class UK university, driven by the prospect of furthering my knowledge of the world around me as an undergraduate.
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