And so it was that on September 7th, 2005 we submitted a Letter of Intent (LOI) to the Fields Institute. It was a short seven-pager outlining our views for the thematic program:
- Tom Hurd, Vicky Henderson, Marcel Rindisbacher and myself as the organizing committee
- about 20 names of leading international researchers who had already agreed to be part of the different scientific committees
- a brief description of the science involved, divided in the categories (A) Mathematical Foundations, (B) Quantitative Finance and (C) Emerging Applications
- the proposed structure of 4 week-long workshops and 4-6 two-day industry forums, plus the idea of submitting a bid to host the Bachelier Congress as the closing activity
- an additional list of about 40 likely senior participants.
In preparing the letter, we benefited immensely from constructive feedback by Barbara Keyfitz and Tom Salisbury - the Directorate of Fields at the time. The final product was then refereed by 5 external reviewers over the course of the following six months or so. By May, 2006 we heard back from Fields saying that they were inviting us to submit a full proposal based on the very positive reviews our letter received.
The reviewers were indeed enthusiastic, althoug one of them remarked that our list possible speakers was "mostly a who's who of the best people; many of them will not accept". Looking back at the list, I'm pleased to say that over nine tenths of them did accept and will be coming to Toronto.