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Review of “My Life as a Quant” and “The Quants” by Wight Martindale

This is a review that I just came across from a while back. I like what he says about my long-ago My Life as a Quant:

It is at this point that it is useful to read Emanuel Derman’s autobiography My Life as a Quant, which provides an instructive contrast to the activities of Patterson’s quants. Derman, a South African native who received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Columbia in 1973 and then migrated to the Quantitative Strategies Group at Goldman Sachs, is the story of a very smart man
who did not blow up the financial markets—he simply wanted to solve complex mathematical problems. Not surprisingly, he’s back at Columbia, where he teaches quantitative finance.

Derman is a scientist in the purest sense. He has a mature curiosity, not idle, adolescent insatiability. He loved the history and the traditions of the Columbia physics department (which had more than its share of Nobel Prize winners), where “brilliance seemed paramount” and where “the classes I liked best were taught by people who gave you a feel for what it was like to discover something new, as well as the sense of how it had been done.” There is no sense of dominance or power over others involved in his thinking. He is not beating the dealer.

Derman is always conscious of the predecessors in his field; he knows he is laboring within an august tradition.

The Review

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