"My parents discovered that I was of a mathematical bent aged three when I was apparently lining up my toys in order of size and then colour. I was one of these terrible, precocious kids who did their mathematics Olevel aged 12. After a long academic career I ended up doing theoretical physics for my PhD, and spent a couple of years at Cern in Geneva. Many people I know from back then are still at universities, doing research and climbing the slippery slope to professorships and fellowships. They work the same astonishing long hours as I do, yet get paid a fraction and, from a purely scientific perspective, get to do some really, really interesting science. I often say (only half jokingly) that I "sold my soul" – I make a little over £200,000 a year, including my bonus."
"I said I was a quant, derived from the word 'quantitative'. We're the people of a definite mathematical bent, and if you're looking for a warriorlike analogy, we are perhaps the "armourers" of the financial industry, or, let me think … Traders are the warriors of our world; they go out and fight. I think of them as 'egos on legs'. Sharp suits, looking very smart… We quants are the trader's brain. It's our model that defines not only the risks the trader can take, the model also calculates how much risk he is taking with his particular trades at any given moment and we also predict future movements in valuation, pricing and the like."
"I have been in banking for over 20 years, and for several years I was with one of the major international investment banks. I discovered that I am just not enough of an arsehole to make it there. Why the top people at investment banks are like that? Well you have a thousand vicepresidents vying for 10 managing director posts. What do you think will happen? People will do anything to get ahead, backbiting, backstabbing, the whole nine yards. For those of us who find life surrounded by other people difficult enough as it is, the requirement to network is hellish."
"Not sure though that I'd voluntarily swap IQ points for EQ – even though I'm certain that I'm going to end up as one of the single old blokes that you might occasionally come across – nice, big house in the country, lots of dogs, materially comfortable and yet utterly alone and mad as a fish.
Later, when asked to elaborate on that final point, he responds via email:
"I've long been aware of the prospect (with some 'tongueincheek') of becoming mad as a fish, and the attractiveness of the current imbalance between EQ and IQ is that I know that my biggest, deepest fear is failure. With the current imbalance, I know that the risk of failure is reduced to its current level: eg, small but still real. That fear of failure drives me and means that I know I'm giving up anything approaching EQ in pursuit of avoidance of failure."
Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will Archive Favorite posts Twitter: @steve_hsu
Sunday, December 04, 2011
I, quant
A commenter linked to this Guardian interview with a UK quant. I found a number of his comments interesting enough to post here. See the original for more detail about the software he develops. I always felt that if I went into finance it would be as a trader, but with quant skills ;)
blog comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to:
Post Comments (Atom)
Blog Archive

▼
2011
(267)

▼
12
(20)
 Finding the Next Einstein
 Merry Christmas, 2011
 Tropical xmas in southern China
 Asian admissions, statistical prediction, and all ...
 BGI photos: December 2011
 Season's Greetings from BGI
 National Review: Applying While Asian
 Human capital, globalization and physics 101
 Future vol
 Borges: A poet never rests
 The Deal: The debate over elite schools and elite ...
 Gracie Breakdown: UFC 140
 Equilibration in progress: legal services
 Snap Crackle Pop: UFC 140
 Differential validity of the SAT
 Jim Manzi: How elite business recruiting really wo...
 Borges' The Witness
 I, quant
 From Walden Pond to quant trading
 "I'm not Asian"...

▼
12
(20)
Labels
 physics (293)
 finance (250)
 globalization (223)
 genetics (222)
 brainpower (199)
 photos (135)
 technology (132)
 science (127)
 economics (126)
 China (123)
 american society (123)
 psychometrics (121)
 credit crisis (115)
 travel (103)
 innovation (99)
 higher education (92)
 psychology (92)
 human capital (89)
 universities (84)
 iq (81)
 startups (79)
 credit crunch (78)
 biology (72)
 gilded age (68)
 careers (66)
 cognitive science (62)
 income inequality (62)
 elitism (61)
 evolution (59)
 autobiographical (57)
 genomics (57)
 ai (55)
 books (55)
 quantum mechanics (52)
 genetic engineering (50)
 social science (49)
 caltech (47)
 bgi (46)
 genius (46)
 cdo (45)
 kids (44)
 statistics (44)
 derivatives (41)
 education (39)
 mma (39)
 talks (39)
 history of science (37)
 mortgages (36)
 bubbles (35)
 behavioral economics (34)
 silicon valley (34)
 podcasts (32)
 bounded rationality (31)
 hedge funds (31)
 intellectual history (31)
 mathematics (31)
 literature (29)
 MSU (28)
 academia (28)
 efficient markets (27)
 geopolitics (27)
 quants (27)
 expert prediction (26)
 many worlds (26)
 sports (26)
 black holes (25)
 machine learning (25)
 physical training (25)
 sci fi (25)
 subprime (25)
 ufc (25)
 entrepreneurs (24)
 housing (24)
 political correctness (24)
 taiwan (24)
 foo camp (23)
 history (23)
 harvard (22)
 jiujitsu (22)
 obama (22)
 computing (21)
 economic history (21)
 film (21)
 ultimate fighting (21)
 athletics (20)
 feynman (20)
 google (20)
 wall street (20)
 berkeley (19)
 bjj (19)
 cds (19)
 affirmative action (18)
 goldman sachs (18)
 movies (18)
 race relations (17)
 security (17)
 treasury bailout (17)
 freeman dyson (16)
 university of oregon (16)
 von Neumann (16)
 gender (15)
 internet (15)
 japan (15)
 quantum field theory (15)
 singularity (15)
 blogging (14)
 cryptography (14)
 neuroscience (14)
 nuclear weapons (14)
 personality (14)
 realpolitik (14)
 biotech (13)
 conferences (13)
 oppenheimer (13)
 venture capital (13)
 algorithms (12)
 cosmology (12)
 happiness (12)
 india (12)
 politics (12)
 probability (12)
 scifoo (12)
 autism (11)
 hedonic treadmill (11)
 malcolm gladwell (11)
 meritocracy (11)
 music (11)
 aspergers (10)
 fitness (10)
 geeks (10)
 les grandes ecoles (10)
 mutants (10)
 net worth (10)
 new yorker (10)
 olympics (10)
 social networks (10)
 string theory (10)
 wwii (10)
 chess (9)
 entropy (9)
 eugene (9)
 flynn effect (9)
 neanderthals (9)
 ability (8)
 christmas (8)
 complexity (8)
 dating (8)
 dna (8)
 football (8)
 government (8)
 italy (8)
 keynes (8)
 nerds (8)
 nobel prize (8)
 robot genius (8)
 usain bolt (8)
 aig (7)
 alpha (7)
 ashkenazim (7)
 basketball (7)
 crossfit (7)
 encryption (7)
 harvard society of fellows (7)
 height (7)
 hugh everett (7)
 manhattan (7)
 qcd (7)
 real estate (7)
 television (7)
 Einstein (6)
 alan turing (6)
 anthropic principle (6)
 art (6)
 blade runner (6)
 data mining (6)
 determinism (6)
 fx (6)
 games (6)
 james salter (6)
 nassim taleb (6)
 nsa (6)
 privacy (6)
 success (6)
 teaching (6)
 turing test (6)
 volatility (6)
 Fermi problems (5)
 academia sinica (5)
 bayes (5)
 bobby fischer (5)
 climate change (5)
 econtalk (5)
 energy (5)
 environmentalism (5)
 france (5)
 free will (5)
 game theory (5)
 luck (5)
 noam chomsky (5)
 philip k. dick (5)
 philosophy of mind (5)
 poker (5)
 prostitution (5)
 renaissance technologies (5)
 research (5)
 software development (5)
 tail risk (5)
 war (5)
 warren buffet (5)
 100m (4)
 Go (4)
 Iran (4)
 Poincare (4)
 borges (4)
 cambridge uk (4)
 charles darwin (4)
 class (4)
 creativity (4)
 fake alpha (4)
 feminism (4)
 global warming (4)
 godel (4)
 hormones (4)
 humor (4)
 inequality (4)
 intellectual property (4)
 iraq war (4)
 kerviel (4)
 markets (4)
 microsoft (4)
 mixed martial arts (4)
 monsters (4)
 paris (4)
 patents (4)
 perimeter institute (4)
 pseudoscience (4)
 russia (4)
 soros (4)
 trento (4)
 vietnam war (4)
 200m (3)
 babies (3)
 bill gates (3)
 brain drain (3)
 censorship (3)
 charlie munger (3)
 chet baker (3)
 cold war (3)
 correlation (3)
 demographics (3)
 ecosystems (3)
 equity risk premium (3)
 facebook (3)
 fannie (3)
 fst (3)
 information theory (3)
 intellectual ventures (3)
 judo (3)
 kasparov (3)
 lewontin fallacy (3)
 lhc (3)
 michael lewis (3)
 moore's law (3)
 nathan myhrvold (3)
 neal stephenson (3)
 new york times (3)
 nonlinearity (3)
 path integrals (3)
 quantum computers (3)
 risk preference (3)
 sad but true (3)
 search (3)
 sec (3)
 sivs (3)
 society generale (3)
 solar energy (3)
 alibaba (2)
 assortative mating (2)
 bear stearns (2)
 bruce springsteen (2)
 charles babbage (2)
 cheng ting hsu (2)
 cloning (2)
 david mamet (2)
 democracy (2)
 digital books (2)
 donald mackenzie (2)
 eliot spitzer (2)
 empire (2)
 exchange rates (2)
 freddie (2)
 gaussian copula (2)
 industrial revolution (2)
 james watson (2)
 jim simons (2)
 language (2)
 ltcm (2)
 magic (2)
 mating (2)
 mba (2)
 mccain (2)
 national character (2)
 nicholas metropolis (2)
 no holds barred (2)
 offices (2)
 oligarchs (2)
 olympiads (2)
 palin (2)
 pca (2)
 pop culture (2)
 population structure (2)
 prisoner's dilemma (2)
 rationality (2)
 skidelsky (2)
 smpy (2)
 socgen (2)
 sprints (2)
 thailand (2)
 variance (2)
 abx (1)
 anathem (1)
 andrew lo (1)
 antikythera mechanism (1)
 athens (1)
 atlas shrugged (1)
 ayn rand (1)
 bay area (1)
 beats (1)
 book search (1)
 bunnie huang (1)
 car dealers (1)
 carlos slim (1)
 catastrophe bonds (1)
 cdos (1)
 ces 2008 (1)
 chance (1)
 children (1)
 cochranharpending (1)
 cpi (1)
 david x. li (1)
 dick cavett (1)
 dolomites (1)
 drugs (1)
 eharmony (1)
 epidemics (1)
 escorts (1)
 faces (1)
 fads (1)
 favorite posts (1)
 fiber optic cable (1)
 francis crick (1)
 gary brecher (1)
 gizmos (1)
 greece (1)
 greenspan (1)
 heinlein (1)
 hypocrisy (1)
 igon value (1)
 iit (1)
 inflation (1)
 information asymmetry (1)
 iphone (1)
 jack kerouac (1)
 jaynes (1)
 jfk (1)
 john dolan (1)
 john kerry (1)
 john paulson (1)
 john searle (1)
 john tierney (1)
 jonathan littell (1)
 las vegas (1)
 lawyers (1)
 lee kwan yew (1)
 lehman auction (1)
 les bienveillantes (1)
 lowell wood (1)
 lse (1)
 mcgeorge bundy (1)
 mexico (1)
 michael jackson (1)
 mickey rourke (1)
 migration (1)
 mit (1)
 money:tech (1)
 monkeys (1)
 myron scholes (1)
 netwon institute (1)
 networks (1)
 newton institute (1)
 nfl (1)
 oliver stone (1)
 phil gramm (1)
 philanthropy (1)
 philip greenspun (1)
 portfolio theory (1)
 power laws (1)
 randomness (1)
 recession (1)
 sales (1)
 simulation (1)
 singapore (1)
 skype (1)
 standard deviation (1)
 star wars (1)
 starship troopers (1)
 students today (1)
 supercomputers (1)
 systemic risk (1)
 teleportation (1)
 tierney lab blog (1)
 tomonaga (1)
 twitter (1)
 tyler cowen (1)
 ussr (1)
 venice (1)
 violence (1)
 virtual meetings (1)
 virtual reality (1)
 war nerd (1)
 wealth effect (1)