An interview with Dr Roger Teoh, Simudyne quant

What attracted you to Simudyne?

So, I was introduced by another quant intern. Then I did some research on the company, more specifically, watching videos of Justin (our CEO) introducing the company, and was immediately attracted by his vision of making every important decision based on simulation. I was also invited to the office and saw the work that was going on and the graphs and mathematical equations on the walls were very relatable to my previous projects so, I became super interested in joining.

What have you been working on?

A lot! Some projects are sensitive and I can’t discuss them but for those I can it has been mainly in risk management, market simulation and some confidential government projects using agent-based models. As a side project, I have also worked on modelling how COVID-19 spreads in a university and explored different solutions to reduce the infection rate. I am glad to have the opportunity to participate in these highly interesting projects and enjoyed working on them.

Any observations on modelling and simulation?

The main attraction point for me is that, at its core, Simudyne believes that every important decision needs to be simulated which is something I strongly agree with. We are certainly entering a new era with exponential increase in computational power and the cloud that has powered the adoption of this approach on a large scale that was not previously possible. I have learned that the platform is really easy and useful for building simulations. So now, we do not need to worry about building the framework for the model to run on, just the content. It’s an approach that allows for solving complex problems much more quickly, effectively and transparently.

Now that you have been with Simudyne for some time, what do you like or dislike about it?

One thing I really like about Simudyne is the complete lack of internal politics and flat structure. We call each other whenever we need to and depend on the collective power of our individual strengths. The team always welcomes questions, none are stupid even if some may sound simplistic. Our day to day activity is highly transparent, we always know what everyone else is working on, and will always be held accountable for the tasks we do. In addition, there are very few repetitive tasks, everything is different, so we have to keep learning every day and step out of our comfort zone.

How did you overcome any pandemic related unintended consequences?

This has been my first time working from home. It took some getting used to as I did not feel comfortable doing it. I have gradually realised that it is more efficient to skip daily commutes, but the downside is the need for slightly longer lunch breaks because I have to cook. For collaborations involving mathematics, that can sometimes be a challenge without a physical whiteboard. Simudyne also provides a tremendous amount of flexibility on this aspect. For example, when my internet is down, I always know that I have the option of working from the office safely to get work done.

Beyond the uses clients already have for agent-based modelling and simulation, how would you apply it to other problems?

Agent-based models were initially used in the development of nuclear power. Today, we have witnessed agent-based models applied widely across areas such as finance, social science and transport. Therefore, the sky is the limit. One particular area that I am highly interested in is the simulation of emotions and irrationality leading to different behaviours in the perspective of behavioural science. This would be a significant improvement over existing economic models which tend to assume that humans are always rational in making decisions.