SERVING THE QUANTITATIVE FINANCE COMMUNITY

 
User avatar
Cuchulainn
Posts: 61138
Joined: July 16th, 2004, 7:38 am
Location: Amsterdam
Contact:

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 6:49 am

Dominic,How many know who Edsgar Dijkstra or Sid Hoare are? QuoteI replied (some Europe country), ... when he said he had no idea I mentioned several neighbouring countries but it didn't help, so I said "from Europe", and we finished there as he had no idea where Europe is.Ask the average European the same question about USA and you get the same answer. USA is so diverse. NYC is not Maine.Texas is 20 times larger than the Netherlands and probably as large as Western Europe. So,...
Last edited by Cuchulainn on October 21st, 2010, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
http://www.datasimfinancial.com
http://www.datasim.nl

Every Time We Teach a Child Something, We Keep Him from Inventing It Himself
Jean Piaget
 
User avatar
arkoud
Posts: 59
Joined: March 13th, 2009, 9:56 am

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 7:45 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: barnyI think it's awful. I have never studied fractals before, or any mathematics in which Mandelbrot was involved, but knew about him since age 18 - if you just read around the topic of maths/physics for fun and read popular books you will have come across his name numerous times. Sadly there are so many ignorant people in this world who don't do/read/listen to anything outside their tiny little world. In this case, they haven't even read around their own subject!Barny: You do realise the irony of what you are saying don't you?As for Dominic's original post, I'd say it is an interesting input that a candidate does not know something regarding current affairs but you can't make a an informed judgment based on one question. In the context of an interview it would be worth to follow up with other similar questions on current affairs to gauge whether the candidate is actually following them or not, and if not then why. Eitherway I'd be more interested if the candidate knew the theory behind fractals (if it is relevant to the role) rather than who was the father of the theory and I would have considered it odd that he wouldn't know the latter but wouldn't pay much attention to it.
 
User avatar
endian675
Posts: 143
Joined: March 11th, 2008, 7:09 pm

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 9:36 am

Wasn't a Bournemouth uni student was he? http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/dorset/hi/p ... 115504.stm
 
User avatar
Anthis
Posts: 4313
Joined: October 22nd, 2001, 10:06 am

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 10:07 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: CuchulainnDominic,How many know who Edsgar Dijkstra or Sid Hoare are? QuoteI replied (some Europe country), ... when he said he had no idea I mentioned several neighbouring countries but it didn't help, so I said "from Europe", and we finished there as he had no idea where Europe is.Ask the average European the same question about USA and you get the same answer. USA is so diverse. NYC is not Maine.Texas is 20 times larger than the Netherlands and probably as large as Western Europe. So,...I tend to disagree. The average European has much better relationship with geography. OK the average European may ignore a random village in Germany or Finland, unless it has some famous football team. But the average European definitely can spot easily a country or a continent on the map.
 
User avatar
Cuchulainn
Posts: 61138
Joined: July 16th, 2004, 7:38 am
Location: Amsterdam
Contact:

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 11:41 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: AnthisQuoteOriginally posted by: CuchulainnDominic,How many know who Edsgar Dijkstra or Sid Hoare are? QuoteI replied (some Europe country), ... when he said he had no idea I mentioned several neighbouring countries but it didn't help, so I said "from Europe", and we finished there as he had no idea where Europe is.Ask the average European the same question about USA and you get the same answer. USA is so diverse. NYC is not Maine.Texas is 20 times larger than the Netherlands and probably as large as Western Europe. So,...I tend to disagree. The average European has much better relationship with geography. OK the average European may ignore a random village in Germany or Finland, unless it has some famous football team. But the average European definitely can spot easily a country or a continent on the map.I think this has to do with historical reasons
http://www.datasimfinancial.com
http://www.datasim.nl

Every Time We Teach a Child Something, We Keep Him from Inventing It Himself
Jean Piaget
 
User avatar
DominicConnor
Topic Author
Posts: 11684
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 11:57 am

Just to clarify, I saw them the day after, before his death hit mass media, but they had not heard of his life. Cuch is right about the figures he cites, and of course I've read some of the work of both, but that's because of the sort of person I am.It's that idea, "the right sort of person" that I'm trying to get right in my own head. Hiring managers keep saying to me they want 'smart' people, and I like to think I'm relatively good at doing that, but I know I'm far short of perfect.There is a class of person I call algebraists, people who are good at symbol manipulation, a siginifcant subset of whom have very poor intution as to what the symbols mean, and seem to have very little of a "model" in their head.Related to that is people who may be good at learning stuff, but at the price of understanding.For instance, at a recent lecture by Bruno Dupire, we were treated to negative variance, which of course led us into the idea of imaginary numbers, which is mildly worrying when applied to asset prices.An simplistic algebraist would either have blindly carried on without caring, or rejected the framework.Bruno instead tried to work out what this meant about what was going on with volatility here.So he's clearly not simplistic , and of course has done quite in this line of work.He is good at algebra, but has what I shall label as "intellectual curiousity", which in my view should express itself in many ways because it is an attitude within your personality, not a skill and not something Matlab or Mathematica will do for you.Of course BD is near to the bleeding edge with his work, and by necessity it is hard to talk about this at interview with reliability, so as a proxy for this, I like to see some interest in "stuff".That was not a conscious decision, just the way my views have evolved, and it was only when a candidate blew up so appallingly on the general knowledge that I felt I needed to review / debug this position.I don't expect a candidate going into (say) equity derivs to know more about recent movements in oil prices than "in the last couple of years vol has gone up", butI expect their general knowledge to go beyond the job they are currently do.An acceptable exception is of course where they've been asked to do X, and for their own interest they've tried to go deeper, or tried to bring in an insight from a completely different domain, just to see what happens.But the reason I have drilled down into my own thinknig here is to leave it open for critique.
Last edited by DominicConnor on October 21st, 2010, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
User avatar
Mulberry
Posts: 59
Joined: September 22nd, 2009, 2:02 am

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 12:03 pm

Depends on if they were from the US or Europe then I think there should be no question about knowing who Mandelbrot is, if you have had some technical background. There was hardly any news on his death, moreover it was deemed to be more important that I was aware of Snooki's abstinence from sex for 3 months or that Kim Kardashian wasn't feeling emotional secure about posing naked rather than the unfortunate passing of Mandelbrot who made a contribution to the evolution of the human thought cycle. Speciation of the ignorant is rising ...
Last edited by Mulberry on October 21st, 2010, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
User avatar
EscapeArtist999
Posts: 1620
Joined: May 20th, 2009, 2:49 pm

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 12:20 pm

I am not a computer dude, or math geek. I had heard of Mandelbrot when I was a teenger/early 20s. In fact any one who has had an interest in trading and even somewhat mathematically inclined should have heard of mandelbrot.QuoteOriginally posted by: DominicConnorJust to clarify, I saw them the day after, before his death hit mass media, but they had not heard of his life. Cuch is right about the figures he cites, and of course I've read some of the work of both, but that's because of the sort of person I am.It's that idea, "the right sort of person" that I'm trying to get right in my own head. Hiring managers keep saying to me they want 'smart' people, and I like to think I'm relatively good at doing that, but I know I'm far short of perfect.There is a class of person I call algebraists, people who are good at symbol manipulation, a siginifcant subset of whom have very poor intution as to what the symbols mean, and seem to have very little of a "model" in their head.Related to that is people who may be good at learning stuff, but at the price of understanding.For instance, at a recent lecture by Bruno Dupire, we were treated to negative variance, which of course led us into the idea of imaginary numbers, which is mildly worrying when applied to asset prices.An simplistic algebraist would either have blindly carried on without caring, or rejected the framework.Bruno instead tried to work out what this meant about what was going on with volatility here.So he's clearly not simplistic , and of course has done quite in this line of work.He is good at algebra, but has what I shall label as "intellectual curiousity", which in my view should express itself in many ways because it is an attitude within your personality, not a skill and not something Matlab or Mathematica will do for you.Of course BD is near to the bleeding edge with his work, and by necessity it is hard to talk about this at interview with reliability, so as a proxy for this, I like to see some interest in "stuff".That was not a conscious decision, just the way my views have evolved, and it was only when a candidate blew up so appallingly on the general knowledge that I felt I needed to review / debug this position.I don't expect a candidate going into (say) equity derivs to know more about recent movements in oil prices than "in the last couple of years vol has gone up", butI expect their general knowledge to go beyond the job they are currently do.An acceptable exception is of course where they've been asked to do X, and for their own interest they've tried to go deeper, or tried to bring in an insight from a completely different domain, just to see what happens.But the reason I have drilled down into my own thinknig here is to leave it open for critique.
 
User avatar
farmer
Posts: 13462
Joined: December 16th, 2002, 7:09 am

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 1:23 pm

I still don't know who Mandelbrot is and I probably never will.I am far from qualified to guess what general knowledge a quant or math person would have. But I do know that is is possible for people to be talented without being educated. Such talented people can become proficient in some narrow specialty without being very well rounded. A talented musician who never bothered listening to the existing catalog would be cheating himself, but could still be good.I also think that you can do a lot of basic quant stuff, like risk management and option pricing, without being a real math enthusiast. I don't think being a math groupie, or being a top math expert, gives you much advantage over people the next level down in math talent. I think you are better off with even parts math and other skills, such as programming and understanding markets.It does sound like anybody who has the minimum math necessary to curve-fit observed option prices would have to have heard of this guy. So I would expect someone to know who he is. But if by some bizarre chance he does not, and given more direct measurements of his abilities, I would not penalize him at all.
 
User avatar
ppauper
Posts: 70239
Joined: November 15th, 2001, 1:29 pm

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 2:41 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: DominicConnorI was talking with a candidate last night, and I happened to comment on the death of Benoit Mandelbrot."Who ?" They askedI explianed and even tried spelling the name in case they hasn't heard it right.Nope, the whole thing was outside their general knowledge.Once I convinced myself they weren't just winding me up, I expressed the opinion that if this had happened at interview, it would have hurt their application significantly.Was I right ?I had a very similar discussion with someone about Bob Guccione yesterday
Last edited by ppauper on October 27th, 2010, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
User avatar
ThinkDifferent
Posts: 659
Joined: March 14th, 2007, 1:09 pm

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 3:51 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: ppauperQuoteOriginally posted by: DominicConnorI was talking with a candidate last night, and I happened to comment on the death of Benoit Mandelbrot."Who ?" They askedI explianed and even tried spelling the name in case they hasn't heard it right.Nope, the whole thing was outside their general knowledge.Once I convinced myself they weren't just winding me up, I expressed the opinion that if this had happened at interview, it would have hurt their application significantly.Was I right ?I had a very simialr discussion with someone about Bob Guccione yesterdaywho?
 
User avatar
spacemonkey
Posts: 443
Joined: August 14th, 2002, 3:17 am

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 22nd, 2010, 6:11 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: ThinkDifferentQuoteOriginally posted by: ppauperQuoteOriginally posted by: DominicConnorI was talking with a candidate last night, and I happened to comment on the death of Benoit Mandelbrot."Who ?" They askedI explianed and even tried spelling the name in case they hasn't heard it right.Nope, the whole thing was outside their general knowledge.Once I convinced myself they weren't just winding me up, I expressed the opinion that if this had happened at interview, it would have hurt their application significantly.Was I right ?I had a very simialr discussion with someone about Bob Guccione yesterdaywho?Bob Guccione aka Madonna
Last edited by spacemonkey on October 21st, 2010, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
User avatar
twofish
Posts: 4944
Joined: February 18th, 2005, 6:51 pm

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 23rd, 2010, 12:10 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: DominicConnorOnce I convinced myself they weren't just winding me up, I expressed the opinion that if this had happened at interview, it would have hurt their application significantly. Was I right ?Yes, since if you don't know who Mandelbrot is, this suggests that there are a lot of job-related things that you don't know.
 
User avatar
KackToodles
Posts: 4100
Joined: August 28th, 2005, 10:46 pm

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 23rd, 2010, 4:35 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: twofishYes, since if you don't know who Mandelbrot is, this suggests that there are a lot of job-related things that you don't know. don't worry, you can make plenty of money without knowing who mandel "inkblot" brot is.
 
User avatar
DominicConnor
Topic Author
Posts: 11684
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Reality Check on General Knowledge

October 23rd, 2010, 1:46 pm

I find myself in the unlikely position of agreeing with both kacktoodles and 2fish at the same time All interviews are sampling processes, so some candidates who are excellent are also unlucky enough to be asked the things they happen not to know, and the reverse happens as well.Any given job uses only a relatively small subset of what you can do, and there is sometimes excellent money to be made from monomaniacal obsession with a narrow set.I once wrote a bit of s/w that optimised hotel room overbooking / occupancy / rates, and looking back I will share that many people here could do better, I know I could nowOne of the users gained great status in her firm from understanding what it would do better than I did. She knew no C, as far as I could tell, she had created some monstrous lookup table in her head by repeatedly typing things in and seeing what it did. She was thus paid rather more than I was.But there is great risk in excess focus, when your niche is exhausted, or gets washed away. That will happen.
ABOUT WILMOTT

PW by JB

Wilmott.com has been "Serving the Quantitative Finance Community" since 2001. Continued...


Twitter LinkedIn Instagram

JOBS BOARD

JOBS BOARD

Looking for a quant job, risk, algo trading,...? Browse jobs here...


GZIP: On