In My Life as a Quant, Emanuel Derman relives his exciting journey as one of the first high-energy particle physicists to migrate to Wall Street. Derman details his adventures in this field, analyzing the incompatible personas of traders and quants, and discussing the dissimilar nature of knowledge in physics and finance. Throughout this tale, he also reflects on the appropriate way to apply the refined methods of physics to the hurly-burly world of markets.
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©2004 Emanuel Derman (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"That sense of being an intruder in outlaw territory lends an intriguing mood to Derman's My Life As a Quant, a literate and entertaining memoir." (BusinessWeek)
"Who should read this book? Anyone with a serious interest in finance and everyone who simply wants to enjoy a good read." (Stephen Ross, Franco Modigliani Professor of Finance and Economics, Sloan School, MIT)
Judith Corstjens Author of: Xtensity, Why 5% of Dieters Succeed; Storewars: The Battle for Mindspace and Shelfspace; Strategic Advertising
This is quite an odd book, difficult to categorise or recommend. I was attracted to it because I wanted to understand more about the models used on Wall Street, and it did deliver on that dimension. However, the book is more a memoir than anything else and Derman's story is as much (or more) about his earlier life as a physicist as it is about finance. On the one hand, you could ask, 'Why should I be interested in the life of this random guy?', but, on the other, you have the simple fact that I was. He is, in many ways, highly reminiscent of Sheldon Cooper - the physicist in 'The Big Bang Theory' TV sit com, and I always had sympathy with that character too. But here, without the gags, Sheldon/Derman explains why particle physics is so attractive, and why physicist who understand (or are trying to understand) everything in the universe, tend to look down on other people. Sometimes Derman feels a bit sorry for himself, with his struggle to get a permanent academic post in Physics, or being lonely in a new, alien town, and it is interesting to see how this (clearly very bright) person thinks his way through his various troubles.
On the finance side Derman does indeed give good, understandable explanations of how the Black-Scholes options pricing model is used by Goldman Sacks and their ilk. I do understand this better now. In brief, it adds no value at all to the world, but allows banks to create casino's where they can sell almost any type of bet you (i.e. another bank) want to make to 'hedge' your risks. The models help them price all the bets correctly so that they (GS) will not lose money in any of the possible scenarios that actually unfold. Well, unless a really odd scenario that they didn't calculate for unfolds. After all, the model is based on some rather unrealistic assumptions - smooth diffusion of prices and nice thin tails - and not allowing for jumpy share prices or far-out events in 'fat tails', might lead to unforeseen problems. This book was written in 2004 when all was pretty hunky dory in the world of financial models and value at risk etc. I'm now keen to read the sequel 'Models. Behaving. Badly.'
Not just any quant he was an important player. I later realised I had been reading his papers and have seen references to his work in mainstream books. I was also a physicist and now work in a bank so perhaps it is more relevant for me than most.
The book is very well written and well read. The content was interesting to me. E.g. Interesting how such a successful and bright individual was made redundant when in the wrong environment.
A human reader.
No. Perhaps it's fitting that a book about quantitative finance is read by a computer, but the irritating intonation and lack of comprehension in the reading make for a completely un-listenable audio book.
Asked for my money back.
"Thoroughly Enjoyed It"
This was one of those books that I could not wait to listen to. I was intrigued by the title but skeptical on the information and entertainment value; however I found myself pleasantly surprised. Derman's book had a way about it that drew me in and broadened my view of Quantitative Research. It is always nice to get a different view on finance and this provides just that, a view where money is not the first priority and there are people who actually work for the love of their field
"Too winded and too long"
Well, the title should be: My life as a Student of Physics, Quantum Physics, Lecturer, and then a Quant.
Its that long and winded.
For the first 2 1/2 hours, the book is all about how the author grew up, what subjects he studied in Cape Town high school, how Oxford and Philadelphia are different.. i mean am not surprised he didn't mention how he celebrated each christmas, what was the color of each gift wrapping, etc.
A suggestion to the author: Please read the book: "The Quants" or "Conspiracy of Fools". Your book title should not be misleading.
"Weltanschauung of a Quant"
Be alert to the first two words in the title. This is very much a memoir, with an air of alienated questing that verges at times on The Sorrows of Young Werther. Yet it isn???t is bad as it might be. The author is a good writer and the historical vector he follows from physics to Wall Street is interesting and pertinent. Unfortunately, it was written before 2008, so ironies are rife. In the opening chapter, the author mentions the abhorrence many people felt in the 1970s for physicists as a result of their weapons research. After 2008, the same abhorrence can be reasonably directed toward physicists in finance, eagerly elaborating the Black-Scholes model to develop what Buffet famously dubbed their ???financial weapons of mass destruction.??? Describing his fitful career moves the author often uses the phrase ???I was na??ve,??? and the reader can heartily agree. I had hoped that a physicist with wide ranging interests might be able to offer an intelligent outsider critique of finance. But the author is far too grateful to Wall Street, it seems, to nip the hand that fed him. (This could be one of the last books in the nation dotted with accolades for Goldman Sachs.) The books offers very little in the way of investigative reporting, confession, inside dope, or the deeper social implications of quantitative finance. In other words, be alert the last two words in the title as well. This is indeed the Weltanschauung of a Quant. Few Michael Lewis-type cynical insights. As later chapters descend into hot and heavy volatility modeling, things get opaque and nerdy fast. This is not the outsider critique I???d hoped for. Hence three stars. But it is well written and tracks an interesting path through recent social history. In the end, I actually found the rather dark narrative of graduate school physics in the 1970s to be the most appealing part.
"a life that covers two fields of intrest"
i loved this book. as a kid who loved physics and wanted to be an astronomer, but ended as a cpa with a MBA in finance, this book covers both aspects of intrest for me. The author met the stars of both fields and worked with them.
"Liked the story"
The first part of the book was very interesting (academic part of his life).
The second half was a less interesting. Toward the end the charts referred to, were lost while listening to the book. It would be nice to have a pdf so I could look at the models discussed. Having the visuals may have made it a bit more impactful.
If you enjoy mathematics or physics this is a good book. If you are just a finance focused individual this may be a to long and dry.
I would recommend getting a copy of the book or a copy of the charts he refers to (unless you can visualize really well) to make the most out of his explanations in the later chapters of the book.
Overall I liked the story
"Inside the Building Blocks of Option Pricing"
I was already delighted to listen about Emanuel academia life experience and dilemmas. What a great surprise it was to whatch the foundations of the modern option theory. Thanks Emanuel for sharing this with us!
"Must read charming book for quants and wannabes"
loved it. historically and personally interesting. anyone interested in the industry should read it. a must
"Great story, what a life?"
Fantastic narrative that takes you from the world of physics in the 1970s and ends in the world of finance and risk management in the 1990s. I enjoyed the audio so much that I went ahead and bought a paper copy to capture all the details (physics and finance).
This is a great book as long as you are a big fan of physics and the market.
very different quant from what I read previously.
he had very interesting career! I am looking forward to read his another book
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