Overview of “Nerds on Wall Street”



Technology has transformed global markets, but this is nothing new. Markets have been shaped by machinery for hundreds of years, and this continues at a rapid pace today.

Author David Leinweber—a computer scientist who accidentally stumbled upon Wall Street and became an innovator in the application of modern information technology in trading and investing—is a well-qualified guide to the nerds of greater Wall Street. And now, in this engaging and entertaining new book, he tells the tale of the ongoing technological transformation of the world’s financial markets.

The impact of technology on investing is profound, and Leinweber provides an intriguing look at where technology on Wall Street has been, what it has meant, and how it will impact the markets of tomorrow. In essence, the financial game has changed and will continue to change due entirely to technology. Throughout these pages, Leinweber takes a detailed look at the new “players,” human or otherwise, that offer both unprecedented opportunities and debilitating dangers in this ever-evolving environment.

Divided into four parts, this lively exploration of markets and machines:

• Illustrates the history of technology upheavals in markets and deals with electronic markets and algorithmic trading in Part 1 – Wired Markets

• Explores the use of wired markets, and anything else you can find, to outperform market averages in Part 2 – Alpha as Life

• Examines how humans and machines can work together to extract useful information for investment and trading from textual sources in Part 3 – Artificial Intelligence and Intelligence Amplification

• Considers the roles of technology in contributing to the crisis of 2008, as well as its use to avoid future mishaps in Part 4 – Nerds Gone Wild – Wired Markets in Distress

Being a successful investor—whether individual or institutional—involves more than stock picking, asset allocation, or market timing: it involves technology. And through this story, Leinweber helps you go beyond the numbers to see exactly how advanced technology has become a bigger part of modern markets.

It’s getting harder every day to see the difference between financial markets and computer networks. Hopefully, after reading this book, you’ll have a better sense of how technology shapes today’s markets, and how to best participate in the future of electronic finance.

David Leinweber is a Haas Fellow in Finance at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and founding Director of the Center for Innovative Financial Technology at Berkeley. He is the founder of two pioneering financial technology firms and successfully managed multibillion-dollar institutional portfolios for many years.

Dr. Leinweber has consulted, published, and lectured widely on the use of advanced technology, artificial intelligence, and intelligence amplification in finance—always in an easy and accessible way—and has earned the reputation as “class clown of the quantitative investing industry.”

He received BS degrees in physics and electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a PhD in applied mathematics from Harvard University.

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by David Leinweber