Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?
My name is Paolo Pellizzari and I teach Mathematics for Economic and Social Sciences.
I’m interested in simulation and numerical methods, agent-based models, and computational models for economics and finance.
Several topics can be “summarised” with the study of complex systems, which are a passion of mine, as well as the object of my studies and research. I love R and programming, see cran.r-project.org/.
Outside my job I’m also a lover of sports and backgammon. I love teaching and for the past few years I have been in charge of decisional method courses, computational economy (using R and Netlogo), complex systems and financial literacy.
Tell us about your academic path.
I have a degree in Maths and I earned a PhD in applied mathematics (with a thesis on non-linear dynamic systems in economics and finance). Then I worked for ISTAT and also as a high school teacher for a year.
Over time I evolved from being a mathematician to an atypical economist. I don’t focus on theorems, hypotheses, theses and other typically mathematical concepts. However, even though my interests have shifted towards social sciences, which focus on human beings, who are not particularly “mathematisable”, math has always stayed with me.
What has given you the greatest satisfaction in your career?
I’ve written papers that I’m proud of, but I feel like some of my best work hasn’t been published. C’est la vie, and obviously it’s a risk that you take when you write about your passions, on interdisciplinary subjects and out of your comfort zone.
I feel honoured to have received awards for teaching, because I put a lot of effort into it, and to have covered roles such as Director of the School of International Education, with my own special team.
My other satisfactions include climbing the Manghen pass, participating in the creation of a docu film about Aula Baratto with Carlo Scarpa, and writing an article on the “Domenicale'' by Sole 24 ore. Parva sed apta mihi — “Small but suited to me”.
Have you always known that this was going to be your path?
No, and I think that trying to forecast one’s path can be dangerous, because it easily becomes an obsession that you’re going to pursue at all costs. I disagree with the idea that people are born with a path they need to cover or a destiny.
I believe that professionalism is a mixture of skills, luck, hard work and the opportunities you take or let go. Could I have become someone else? I think so. Maybe I would have been a decent basketball coach or an inspiring high school teacher. But I’m extremely happy about my job and I make an effort to inject novelty both in my professional and personal life. They say that the journey is more important than the destination, right?
What do studying and researching mean to you?
Good question! Teaching means caring, and hoping to educate your students and become fully grown adults, personally and professionally. What I just said is nothing new, it belongs to great teachers such as Lorenzo Milani and Danilo Dolci.
Research is like a game, where I sense the challenge, almost like a race, to ask myself the right questions and try my best to come up with an answer. It is also a way to remain rigorous, put your ego aside and not inflate your results with unnecessary words (the purity of mathematics helps). Have a go at this game, it's serious and amazing at the same time!