Villa and Valaitis Win 2018 Society for Computational Economics Best Student Paper

Friday, June 22, 2018
Ph.D. students Alessandro Villa and Vytautas Valaitis

Ph.D. students Alessandro Villa and Vytautas Valaitis have won the 2018 Society for Computational Economics (SCE) best graduate student paper contest. They received recognition and a 1,500-euro cash award at the Computing in Economics and Finance Conference in Milan, Italy. 

The contest recognizes student papers with a strong computational component in any branch of economics, finance, and decision-making. In their paper, “Machine Learning Projection Methods for Macro-Finance Models,” Villa and Valaitis develop a new machine learning method — an artificial neural network-based expectations algorithm — to solve macroeconomic and asset pricing models. This method is particularly useful because it enables researchers to study optimal fiscal policies using larger and more realistic models.

“The idea came up during Professor Andrea Lanteri’s Optimal Fiscal Policy (ECON 882 Special Topics in Macro International Finance) class,” the co-authors explained. “Initially both of us were interested in methods and applying tools from other disciplines. During Professor Lanteri’s class, we noticed that one of the problems could be a relevant application for machine learning and the project started spontaneously.”

Villa and Valatis thanked Lanteri for his continuous support throughout their project, and said, “It feels great to be rewarded for all the hard work.”