Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Moral: Wherein we consider that Quants are several things. For instance, there are they who bring training in science and engineering into finance thereby raising the level of fairy dusting and elevating financial engineering (see IAFE).


Well, we are told, better handling of finance is possible through these means; however, consider that the non-profit approach might be of more importance than has been allowed.

IEEE Spectrum had an overview (The rise and fall of the quants) in the August, 2009 edition which describes the experiences of a few. It's interesting that some of them fell into the best-and-brightest role, namely a youngster who helps fat cats fill their pockets thereby earning outrageous amounts themselves.

Not that there is anything against making a living, or getting filthy rich (if done fairly and legally), yet the techniques related to the quants can (ought to) be heavily research flavored (The Physics of Money, What they need to learn, In his own words). And, guess what? Some win. Others lose. That's the way life is.

Yet, the influence on either side goes beyond those playing the game. Yes, these shenanigans leave ramifications. What? Yes, it's true.

Old Ben is too busy keeping things afloat to look at this. However, he cannot expect to have a stable economy without these influences being under control.

Merton suggests that perhaps only 2 out of 100 bright ideas pan out. Think of all those side-effects that come from applying tests, uncontrolled except for measurements oriented toward how big the pockets get, on the fly (see Wired's view).

Outrageous! Where the hell is the outrage or is everyone running after those dollars being thrown out by Ben, the pied-piper?

Why is this allowed? Some type of cultural blindness that relates to the economy and money? Somehow, the Lords prevail even though they monkey the works (Mother Jones' view).

Ah, yes, the pay consultant says that the high CEO pay (or any) is due to the small cardinality of the set of those who have the right qualities. Crap!

On a final note, mathematics' role will be covered here. Remember, though, that our success hinges upon economics becoming less 'dismal' as a science; yes, too, notions related to people not being understandable are suspect as they're an excuse for covering up pocket picking.


11/15/2015 -- Quora coming into the scene.

03/15/2015 -- Finally, getting around to the pending business.

03/03/2014 -- Acknowledgements, including math pedigree, will be expanded.

10/24/2012 -- Goldman skimming via Quants and their creative finance.

03/15/2012 -- Okay, might have used incomputability (see post on Alan M. Turing) but stand by the context, the issues, and the need for resolutions. Wake up, quants (you, too, Ben).

10/07/2010 -- Several principles need to be explored, such as the ergodic one.

12/10/2009 -- More roles include the consumer and the economy.

09/01/2009 -- Oh, one might ask, why do I pick on Quants? A good question that we'll expand upon over time. They're like explorers in a new territory who mainly pillage and exploit when we, the human race, need more those who can map and help us learn. Learn as in real knowledge not just moving monies to certain pockets. Yes, indeed, a map-territory issue here among many others.

08/27/2009 -- Let's start talking computational issues and how they contribute to systemic risk.

08/24/2009 -- Further message to the Quants. Have you looked at the Vienna School's discussion of undecidable which applies, big time, to your milieu (even with the numeric overlay)?

08/21/2009 -- Need to start a list of technical things to discuss: ergodic hypothesis, sojourn time, ...

08/20/2009 -- Note 1: 'Derivative(s)' has been used a few times in the posts. The context may imply the usage, hopefully. But, in general, we're talking two types: 1) from finance, where 'derived from' is the proper interpretation (or as one may surmise from posts here and elsewhere, something from nothing), 2) the usual mathematical variety.

08/20/2009 -- So, Quants have their following, as evidenced by this 'hero' worshipping text from Wikipedia (hey, I'm a contributor and believe in what it foretells) that we find int the Slang Section: Rocket scientist, a financial consultant at the zenith of mathematical and computer programming skill. They are able to invent derivatives of frightening complexity and construct sophisticated pricing models. They generally handle the most advanced computing techniques adopted by the financial markets since the early 1980s. Typically, they are physicists and engineers by training; rocket scientists do not necessarily build rockets for a living.
Of course, that could have been written by a self-absorbed Quant. But, 'frightening' is the right word; yes, they may have been adapted, yet at what grief? At least, a real 'rocket' can be tested in a natural setting. These models? One purpose for our discussions here.

08/19/2009 -- I said earlier that, after some jawboning, I would get serious. Well, it's time. Why now (after all, I wrote that in October of 2008)? Well, hasn't the past year just been full of 'say what?' moments as things unthought of appeared without much clamor. Also, it's good to see the enthusiasm of those who have gone through MFE courses (yes, we do have to divert from the MBA mentality), plus the fact that blogsphere (like, Hail the Quants!) has allowed these students to share their thoughts is inspiring.

But, first, a couple of messages.
  • To the non-Quants: not everyone has to run after the martingales, folks, in fact, the world needs those who can counter the quantitive bias. That is, we'll have computers. But, we'll also need to truth engineer these beasties, and those who are their keepers, using means that are analog and intutitive.
  • To the Quants: if you take exception to this post, accept my apologies, but the intent is to riddle any who runs after money using insights provided by our mathematical talents. What we need is a collective approach to found the basis for the dismal science in a more positive approach (notice the absence of the 'istic'). Guess what? The framework will be computational with humans in the loop. So, there will be plenty work available for Quants.
Modified: 11/15/2015

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