The Goals of TAoQF
Do you ever get that feeling where something just isn’t right but you can’t put your finger on what? For me this is like when I haven’t yet brushed my teeth in the morning – they may not be dirty but still don’t feel quite right. I get this feeling when I don’t understand something fully. I don’t like it. Too many times I come across a concept in a text book, paper or set or course-notes and get this feeling. I’m convinced it’s mostly since the person explaining the concept doesn’t fully understand it themselves. Either that or they are terrible communicators. I also find the best way to fully understand something myself is to explain it to someone else.
This brings me to the first main goal of TAoQF – to improve my own understanding of the theory behind Quant Finance by explaining this to others.
Over the years I have learnt various programming languages. I have tried lecture type courses but they often just don’t work for me. I found the best way to learn is to build practical examples and having an expert review the code then suggest areas to improve.
The second main goal of TAoQF is then to improve my own coding skills in a number of languages by building practical programs. Since I don’t have a direct “expert” I’m putting a lot of this online and looking for feedback from others.
A number of friends and people I work with have asked me to teach them to code (most notably in VBA). While there are various good resources out there I don’t always agree with the content or techniques used to teach.
The third main goal of TAoQF is to use it as a method to provide training courses that teach coding my way.
The Reason Behind the Title and Icon
I put a lot of thought into the title. I’m a mix between engineer, computer scientist and mathematician. My day to day work and various years of study has convinced me that:
- Too many people focus on mathematics and models without appreciating the real world around it;
- Too many managers and executives don’t really understand the mathematics of the businesses they manage;
In my view Quantitative Finance really is more of an art form than a science. The models and mathematics give us a feel for what is going on but they are still just models and not the real world. The choice of my website icon and identity – the black swan – is a constant reminder that all the fancy mathematics involved cannot fully represent the real world and black swan events can make it completely useless!
Why I decided to start blogging
I remember a time when I was studying for my undergrad degree. I was doing an engineering mathematics course and at some point found myself sat up at 3am trying to understand a concept I didn’t need to understand to pass the course (I just had to be able to use it). This is typical of my wanting to understand things mentality I have done this many times over the years. The problem is that I often didn’t write things down or keep that understanding I gained. One reason for blogging is more of a notebook where I can record my gems of understanding.
I’m hoping that by putting a lot of this stuff out there in public I will have others read it and give me feedback. Maybe picking up on areas where I make mistakes, pointing me at other related and useful stuff and adding to my own understanding. The key goal of this whole experiment is for me to improve my own skills and understanding. While studying computer science I read a web-comic called Questionable Content. Looking through the archives you notice something striking: when the author first started his artistic skills were very basic … now they are excellent. An example of the continuous improvement and learning by doing I’m aiming for here.
In addition, the reason I’m good at understanding certain things is the way my mind works and the way I use my imagination (my wife finds my memory techniques hugely entertaining for example). This is something I usually keep to myself but have decided to let out into the world. Maybe someone out there will benefit from it and if not then at least I will entertain a few people.
The content of the posts
There will be a mix of posts with a general underlying theme that they will in some way be related to Quant Finance. The posts will cover:
- Understanding the theory behind Quant Finance;
- Coding posts and implementations related to Quant Finance;
- Programming tutorials/courses;
- Interesting mathematics, techniques that may sometimes be off topic but I feel may be useful;
- Reviews/summaries of papers/results/books etc;
I’m always open to suggestions on specific topics to cover so please see the contact page if you would like me to take a look at and explain a specific area (no promises on if or when I would do this).