The big quant boom began in the mid-’80s, when investment firms started attracting venerable names like Emanuel Derman, a South African-born physicist described by Patterson as an “überquant,” who eventually became a managing director at Goldman Sachs. When I asked Derman recently about his early years in finance, he said that at first he felt that quant, like rocket scientist before it, was largely a derogatory put-down for the brainy newcomers, many of them foreign-born: “two-thirds pejorative, one-third grudging praise,” by his calculation. Another popular epithet from the era was quant jock, on the model of other eggheaded jock compounds like math jock or computer jock.
On Language: Quants
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