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Total Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2019
Posted: 2019-06-29 06:00
Hello everyone,

Just a quick question, which field would you enter if you were to start from scratch this day and age?

If it was up to me I'd go into quant finance any day of the week but not sure if it's really worth it due to a lot of talented dogs fighting for an ever-shrinking bone, living in high CoL areas, and other impracticalities.

I've been thinking a lot about cybersecurity which could grow exponentially with upcoming cyber wars and unlike data science still only attracts nerds with poor communication skills - which I believe could me an edge.

Obviously, if you'd still go the finance route, perfectly fine. Might I ask why?

Cheers :)

The Doc

Total Posts: 9
Joined: Jun 2019
Posted: 2019-06-29 15:42

Finishing my first year in CS i find myself interested in:
1. Venture Capital: I want to aproach this field from a more technical perspective. Today its like Private Equity but for startups. Pure money lending/buyouts, boring stuff.
2. Online transactions: Something big might come out here, but prob not. What do i mean? Well, we have like 3-4 (w/e) payment methods for OT right? OK. What if we only had 1? Too many problems for that to happen though.
3. XAAS: Subscriptions are the future. From OS and CRM to gaming. Cloud will be/is the umbrella. Ill bet my money here. Not that interesting though imo.
4. Genetical Engineering/Body modification: To early to talk about it. In 100 years something interesting might come.

1. What do you think about the above? Would like to hear some opinions.
2. What will be the next social platform for the masses? A few years ago we had FB. This shit is dying now. Insta took its place. Whats next? I know. "Only if i knew". The only pattern i found is that every thing that becomes very popular in this space has at least one new feature that the previous thing hadnt.

P.S 1: Its very hard to read some posts in this forum. Too small letters xd.
P.S 2: Me no speak english good :)


Total Posts: 129
Joined: May 2016
Posted: 2019-06-29 20:10
No offense but it sounds like you're just listing out what's buzzy right now.

1. Venture Capital - this stuff isn't technical unless you're deep in a given industry or area of expertise, which would kind of render your current question pointless. I guess it can be technical from a deal structuring perspective, but I sense that wasn't your question. Correct me if I'm wrong.

2. Online transactions - weren't you just saying there's too many dogs fighting for an ever decreasing bone?

3. "X"aaS - I would disagree. Myself, and many others I've spoken to, are getting fucking tired of having subscriptions forced down our throats. The software companies that are going public off of this model may not realize it, but some of their biggest users are actively working to get rid of them. (Tableau comes to mind...MathWorks... the gaming communities reactions to in-game transactions...) So anyways, I'd take the other side of your bet, particularly if we're talking timeframes that match up with a career.

4. Genetics - what gives you the right to say "it's too early to tell" if you're not an expert in that field?

If you're genuinely talented in the technical aspects of finance, there is much less competition than you might think. But most people don't need really talented number crunchers, they need talented number crunchers with a talented commercial sense. (How many quants that you've met have also, or could, successfully manage a non-technical business for a period of time, convince people to give them money, know how to deal with office politics while still advancing their own career, and/or propose new deals/opportunities to management and go out, get buy in, and get them done?)

Edit: I see you're a 1st year CS student. Your post sounds like you're finding things interesting as they're proposed to you. I'd encourage you to think about what you were interested in before you found out about how rich people were getting, or before you cared all that much about that. I'd encourage you to do the same with thinking about where your genuine talents might be. Then I'd encourage you to think about how the skills you're learning could be combined with those things in an industry, or doing something, that may not have the "prestige" but are things you can actually close your eyes and see yourself doing in the future. That's what I wish I had done 10+ years ago.


Total Posts: 415
Joined: Mar 2018
Posted: 2019-06-29 20:48
If you're genuinely talented in the technical aspects of finance, there is much less competition than you might think.

@rftx713 what do you mean by the technical aspects exactly?


Total Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2019
Posted: 2019-06-29 22:54
I think you're mixing The Doc and me up. But thanks for the advice, I feel like I have been giving my future the thorough analysis you suggest but each time I tihnk I have finally found my career path I find a 1000 reasons why it wouldn't work. Maybe in the end I might as well throw a dart blindfolded and just go for it, or worse become an M&A banker.

The Doc

Total Posts: 9
Joined: Jun 2019
Posted: 2019-07-03 21:00
"things you can actually close your eyes and see yourself doing in the future. That's what I wish I had done 10+ years ago."

Yeah. OK. Nice to meet you! Easy to say hard to do. If i already knew i wouldnt be here. I guess i will drop out and commit into beatmaking :)

1. I dont see the current model working with a lot of success though. Making 10 investments and pray at least 1 of those makes you money is so old school. Idk what needs to be done. I just think something else has to happen. Maybe the tech sector is the problem to begin with. Idk.

2. No. Thats an increasing bone.

3. You will remember my words when Windows becomes subscription too.

4. Pointless question sorry. Not the right place to ask something about this.

Thanks a lot for your time @rftx713. Really appreciate your response!!
Anyone else having something to add?


Total Posts: 10
Joined: Jul 2017
Posted: 2019-07-05 11:10
Data science for me.


"each time I tihnk I have finally found my career path I find a 1000 reasons why it wouldn't work"

A meta-answer: your problem is not the 1000 issues in front of you, but you fretting over it like a girl. Go to the gym if you don't already, get good at some competitive sport. You will then avoid decisions based on insecurity (bad ones) and make ones that, while not necessarily good, you will not regret.

The widespread low social skills and common brilliance in cybersecurity means the field does not offer great salaries and yet requires amazing dedication. Only go there if it fits you psychologically. If you're >18 and think this is just a specialisation like any other, that you can pick at your leisure, you may be already too late.

@The Doc

1. Interesting work by my definition is R&D-like, and therefore risky, so you'll never get rid of that. You already have a very destructive mindset for the job. (It does not work the other way though; risky stuff is not necessarily interesting.)

3. Easy, look at what work is available inside Netflix or Google. If you like, go ahead. Who cares about Windows.

4. Genetic modification of plants is done already in many labs around the world. The free and abstract mind of a computer scientist is perhaps not fit for lab work however.

The Doc

Total Posts: 9
Joined: Jun 2019
Posted: 2019-07-10 18:10
Thank you @sigterm !!!

1. Why Data Science? Everyone is self-proclaimed as a DS these days. Oversaturation is a thing in this domain imo. There might be a scarce of experienced people that actually know what to do with the data though.
As far as i know, "Cloud" services are booming but this is the present not the future.

2. What do you mean in no3?

P.S I feel like the tech sector is slowing down.

The Doc

Total Posts: 9
Joined: Jun 2019
Posted: 2019-07-23 20:11


Total Posts: 502
Joined: Mar 2005
Posted: 2019-07-24 23:41
Turnaround specialists like FTI.

Learn how to buy a turd and crush it into a diamond.

On a laager on a hill. A long way from Avondale.

The Doc

Total Posts: 9
Joined: Jun 2019
Posted: 2019-07-25 11:38
So, the private credit/debt industry?


Total Posts: 10
Joined: Jul 2017
Posted: 2019-07-31 09:16
@The Doc

1. This is the perspective of an IT worker, mind you, not a quant. Data Science is a buzzword. It can probably be defined honestly as traditional statistics plus the new computational stuff popularised by e.g. The Elements of Statistical Learning. As you wrote, lots of people advertise "data science skills" but few truly are good at computer science and mathematics at the same time. It brings value yet can still be done "in a garage", with little capital, compared to most engineering, which ties you to moneyed people you'd rather not have to report to. So choosing Data Science would be optimising my career for autonomy, not money. I don't like working, and I especially don't like taking orders; other career goals will direct you in other ways.

2. I meant, look into big cloud providers' papers/talks/job offers, to see what kind of work is behind XaaS and see if that tempts you. Not everything cloud makes sense, but cloud services make economies of scale, and that's going to stay true indefinitely.

Everything is slowing down. Technology that actually brings value to the world will need smart people to prop it up for a long time, don't worry. If you want a very high-level perspective, think about what's essential: finding and distributing energy, food & water, controlling people, etc.

BTW, rftx713's advice is genuine. Do not be dazzled by the lights, they're there to enslave weak people with no internal compass. If you're really that good at making beats, then give it a shot. Just try to avoid Avicii's fate.


Total Posts: 1246
Joined: Feb 2007
Posted: 2019-08-02 14:15
There is still money to be made in tech. I can't stand the culture though. Zippity doodah new framework angularjs, twee nincompoops making simple shit complicated because muh engineering, "product managers" who don't know anything, patches on patches masquerading as engineering improvements, insane political witch hunts, greasey VC antics, 80 hour a week death marches, "work for me for free" hackathons, trans-people on roller skates next to the ping pong table and catered lunches, plus virtually all of it visibly makes the world worse. I know people who had fun in early Google days and stuff like that, but I don't know anyone in the Valley having much fun now.

Always thought observational astronomy was pretty cool. Surprisingly everyone I know who went into it continues to do it, so it must be OK; better than physics anyhow.

I've thought about going into oil and gas. Tons of interesting mathy problems to work on, you can don the safari hat to visit remote locations, good compensation with potential for wall street sized upsides, I won't be persecuted for being who I am, and evil idealistic ding dongs are off trying to make solar panels that work at night instead of doing honest work drilling giant holes in the earth and drinking dat mofo's milkshake.

Criminally underrated: operations research. Practitioners are usually vastly more hard headed and well trained in fundamentals than "data scientists." It's also the type of engineering job where you can go home after an 8 hour day.

"Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious."


Total Posts: 415
Joined: Mar 2018
Posted: 2019-08-02 14:44
@jslade "but I don't know anyone in the Valley having much fun now." because of all the previous?

"good compensation with potential for wall street sized upsides," whats the job though ;)


Total Posts: 1325
Joined: Jun 2007
Posted: 2019-08-02 16:17
Agree with jslade on the OR stuff.

IMHO there are a lot of fascinating problems in manufacturing, supply chain management and logistics. A combination of forecasting, risk management, planing and optimization or even game theory...sometimes coupled with challenging computational restrictions (lattency, availability and even limited cpu or memory).

"Data Science" and more important machine learning are very very relevant and powerfull tools here and OR engineer should know about. But so are simulation, classical statistical and mathematical modelling and numerics.

I do this stuff for a living. I love finance, but I am more interested in it, when it is part of a more "physical" systems, like in commodities.

Ich kam hierher und sah dich und deine Leute lächeln, und sagte mir: Maggette, scheiss auf den small talk, lass lieber deine Fäuste sprechen...


Total Posts: 490
Joined: Jan 2015
Posted: 2019-08-02 16:55
FaceApp is a pretty good reminder that it's still quite possible to make it huge in tech without touching the Silicon Valley nexus. All of those downsides are mostly avoidable by being lean enough to do without VC lucre, and the loss of autonomy that comes with it.

It's just tough to forego because the funding flows so freely. But most startups with $3 million seed rounds could pretty much do the same thing by rotating through $20k credit card limits. That probably means paying early early stage employees with actually decent stock options to keep salaries low, relocating outside the insanely priced tech center metros, writing C instead of javascript, and not paying through the nose for hyped up cloud-based serverless crap.

The way it looks, the FANG/VC/SV ecosystem is today's version of IBM circa 1975. Nobody could imagine a future of computing that wasn't dominated by Big Blue. Until it happened, then it seemed obvious in hindsight. Today's tech giants have built Robber Baron like monopoly juggernauts. But at it's core it's all built on top of the most decentralized platform in the history of the world. That's a house of sand if I've heard of one. There's no way that business model survives in the long-run. The walled gardens are a lot more pregnable than they look.

Right now, this generation's Apple Computer is in a garage somewhere. That garage almost certainly isn't in Palo Alto, and Andreesen Horowitz definitely won't be in at the ground floor. If you're young, insanely ambitious, and want to light the world on fire, imagine some version of 2030 where Google, Facebook or Amazon have been rendered irrelevant. Now figure out, how do we get from here to there?

Good questions outrank easy answers. -Paul Samuelson

The Doc

Total Posts: 9
Joined: Jun 2019
Posted: 2019-08-03 01:39
Some points from all of you:

1. You all mentioned commodities.
Yeah. Nobody gives a f anymore. They take those things for granted. They are busy with their insta stories. They all think Zuck is spying them too. lmao. You can look at the prices though. Metals are stable (dropping in very slow rates). Everyone is waiting for China to boom again lmao. Even battery metals are not climbing. Ags can be interesting but only for specialised crops where the margins are huge but volumes tiny. Energy is oversupplied. Oil consumption is peaking in like 10 years (my guess, i could be wrong but you get my point). As for gas, we produce so much that in SOME cases its price is negative (imagine being a commodity with negative price lol). People are paying others to take it in USA (cause of fracking, now thats a fiasco too, but w/e). Trump is begging EU to take his LNG. I remember when i was 10yo we had power and gas crises. Now its all stable. It takes the excitment out of the game. If you are talking about drilling or production engineering, then yeah, that could be interesting but it might get boring after a while. Still money to be made in commodity trading but i thing the era of commodities is over. Change my mind :)

2. @EspressoLover: FaceApp? That shit is already dead. They probably made big bucks during the week that thing was relevant. But thats not an argument.
"But at it's core it's all built on top of the most decentralized platform in the history of the world." Having decentralised platforms got them where they are. Its a much better experience for the user imo. Maybe you are old school, or im just stupid...
"how do we get from here to there?" Hmm, we dont?
People keep saying "markets are cyclical". Stop it. Use this instead "markets WERE cyclical". I got your point with IBM in 70s but its not relevant anymore. Its like using historical data to predict prices. Useless.
Very interesting poionts about VC. Can you expain this more?

3. @Maggette: Isnt the current state of ML (or at least 80% of it), image recognition, and NLP? The only big think i see coming out from this, is the self driving car. Oh, and very good smartphone camera software/firmware. As for operations and manufacturing, those processes are being optimised for decades. Nothing new or groundbreaking here.

4. @jslade: Agree with the culture in tech. I cringe even with myself sometimes. Space is cool but since its nothing out there i would say its boring. Oh, and you are entirely government funded (i wouldnt like that). Can you explain ops research? Sounds interesting, but my mind goes to boring stuff. Are you talking about manufacturing or tech?

5. @sigterm: So cloud is the future or the present?

- What do you guys think about a career in sales? Maybe sales engineering/tech sales? Maybe people are tired of the typical salesman and want more customised and faster solutions. Money can be good as far as i know but quite boring.

- There are some interesting uses of ML and DS in the finance industry that im interested in. Im talking about private markets though (public markets are kinda dead - dying).
There are some uses in the gaming industry too but its not paying very well xd.
Any opinions about those?

You can make good money by writing code that replaces humans or shittier code. - Me

Thank you all for sharing info and spending your time to respond!!! Sry for bad english..


Total Posts: 215
Joined: Mar 2011
Posted: 2019-09-17 10:26
image or video. stuff that can run on an ARM. (pete warden has written about this)

best CS classes are compilers (stanford--aiken), operating system (mit xv6). stanford fourier and mit linear algebra worthwhile.

there are loads of weird data formats to specialize in. just like FIX in trading, netflix needs people who know the details of yuv/hmac/mp4 (i am out of my depth here but you get the point).

get good at C, but not the first thing. start with python/node/ruby/friendly. don't waste time on scientific computing (unless it's macaulay2, which is a totally different story).

A friend who ran a jazz combo said he would always try to get a drummer who used to play with a metal band. Why? “They hear ALL the 64th notes. So playing a weird rhythm just meant leaving out certain 64th notes.”

Something similar is true with coding, the best people for clock issues are video game programmers. They really really really wanted that missile hitting their sprite to line up with their boom sound----more than a generic young ambitious wants to learn 2 play stock market good.

Put another way: skill is unmistakable in other fields.

added. Koopdeta, I would also invest 1-2-… months each in learning puppet (there is a learning VM) and docker (their standard docs). Old sysadmin skills are, for me, still like a bread-and-butter, but zillion other things may be replacing them. That said, if you buy the GNU Parallel book you'll see the argument made that PostgreSQL and GNU parallel ( and cron can do most distributed systems work. Whatever. I'm picking 5 technologies for you to start with so you don't have to pick. Move on from there in another year or 2 when you know more. My 5 are: parallel, redis, docker, puppet, postgres.for salary data at FAANG, look up "team blind". As a bonus, you get a preview of how nasty some people are on the inside! Just look at their "marriage" section.


Total Posts: 516
Joined: Dec 2008
Posted: 2019-09-17 12:21

Super interested in macaulay 2 reference. would you elaborate? groebner applications?


Total Posts: 10
Joined: Jul 2010
Posted: 2019-09-18 14:03
I am too young to have first hand knowledge of this but it seems to me that old fashioned 20th century Wall Street partnerships survived for so long, when they did survive, because the structure reduced agency risk, and forced everyone in the boat to mostly pull in the same direction, or else be ruined.

What led to the general extinction of this model for joint risk-taking? Is it gone for good?

Mutual corporations at one time made up a large segment of the banking and insurance industries, and then demutualization wiped them out. There was some wealth unlocked temporarily for the engineers of the restructuring, but I am not sure that the corporate descendants of the old firms have been more successful than their forebears.

Is the mutual company gone forever?

Back office operations at one time were such a crushing problem, that it was a limit to growth and operational risk was significant, and I think this even significantly contributed to systemic counterparts risk.

Data used to be more scarce, yet less valuable.

It is a truism, or at least it was when I was still current on these matters, that there will always be a march of small denovo banks, and the vast majority of them will not go out of business, but rather will be acquired. What are the stylized facts about the stream of de novo buy-side shops that have been popping up since I was old enough to be paying attention?

Just ten years ago Jim Rogers was still being invited to tell everyone about the infinite boom in commodities that was going to inevitably follow the rise of China and the emerging economies.

As another commented here mentioned, the monopolies of Google and Facebook are largely taken for granted now. I personally am prone to perhaps unthinkingly accept that automation and technology will lead to ever greater consolidation.


Total Posts: 215
Joined: Mar 2011
Posted: 2019-09-18 23:09
hey Deeds! :)

I've not been able to make use of the Sturmfels/Cox stuff. Nor really any of the supposedly applied mathematics texts I've read. So I switched to just trying to understand simple mathematical objects that don't have the marketing behind them. Started with baez week52 a couple years ago and various things built on that.

Many years before I made that switch I did pick up Eisenbud’s commutative algebra with a view to algebraic geometry. Even not understanding most of it, it's worth an econometric look even just for the appendices. Econometricians *always* use ℤ, never ℝ, and plus the ring embedding idea and his view of matrices are just different.

Plus commutative algebra is about curved surfaces, not straight planes. Which we clearly deal with.

However I don't believe I approached algebraic geometry correctly the first time. What helped me now is Mumford’s
Curves and their Jacobians, Arnol'd plane curves and caustics, Bill Fulton, Miles Reid, HF Baker, Durfee double points, … people who have an actually concrete curve with some weirdness to it. And toward that end, Emmy Murphy's IAS lecture on mirror symmetry for the trefoil mentioned the Koras-Russell variety, which I thought would be good to do some calculations with. Chapter 2 of the Macaulay book is again Eisenbud’s, and it's mercifully concrete.

As far as career (thread category), the idea is just to separate intellectual interest from stuff that's actually useful. (e.g. FIX protocol has no intellectual interest, the Ikosahedron does)

No one will pay you to play with Floer theory, and making an image recognizer work on a phone isn't interesting.


Total Posts: 516
Joined: Dec 2008
Posted: 2019-09-19 10:48
sorry, all, for the threadjack

Koopdeta - i agree with original post...i love quant finance, which strikes a great balance between having a developed framework, materiality and interesting methodologies.

To me the distinguishing point that makes the field interesting is the notion of price and associated economic logic, and its violations. I've found a spot that requires using the framework in some detail, at the expense of accolade and compensation. (essentially back office type looking at complex/illiquid securities for funds and corporates)

@R thanks for the list and update.

every now and then an ember sparks the forest.

Back in the basket of coal (potential ember), but perhaps of interest - you may be interested in Carr's recent work applying tropical varieties (max/plus min/cut type) to stylized option problems (toy problems at this stage). It's interesting to see him dive into algebra with his financial background and particular style of research and exposition.

Will also point out that (fake) Economics nobel was given for application of tropical varieties to utility in last couple of years.

Your comment about Macaulay as a general direction has some support...i'm giving it autonomous car timetable...may not be hard to be a pioneer as the fields come together.

let us know when back in NY.

EDIT: clarified role


Total Posts: 435
Joined: Nov 2006
Posted: 2019-09-19 16:21
Has anyone been able to do anything cool with Macaulay2?

I have used it to solve systems of quadratic equations. 9 equations in 9 unknowns. Enough to do some funny stuff with 3 x 3 matrices, but not exactly all that cool.


Total Posts: 16
Joined: May 2020
Posted: 2020-05-31 17:00
Has anyone ever switched from quant researcher roles to Software Engineer or ML Engineer in Tech ? Could someone shed some light on how easy it is to get interviews for tech companies, especially if you're from finance?


Total Posts: 1325
Joined: Jun 2007
Posted: 2020-05-31 20:36
I worked 5 years in energy trading and had some contractor role in banking (but more on the software/IT side).

I do work as machine learning/data engineer, software engineer (backend and data bases only) and scientific programmer outside of finance for 5 years now. I enjoy the work, but it isn't that different from what I did before. A bit applied math, but the rest 60-70% coding, 40%-30% working with data.

If you mean FANG if you are talking about tech companies, I can't get you any advice. I don't I would guess they couldn't care less if you worked in finance before or not.

Everybody I worked with and worked for cares about engineering skills and project experience. I am from Europe and here NOBODY is looking for another dude who took some coursea classes to do the hip stuff too.

I think if you are ready to join places that not many people are talking about, you could earn decent (but not great) money and could do interesting work.

Things I would consider is IT security.

Ich kam hierher und sah dich und deine Leute lächeln, und sagte mir: Maggette, scheiss auf den small talk, lass lieber deine Fäuste sprechen...
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