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Physicists and the Financial Markets


Peter Woit, Not Even Wrong, Last Links for a While, here. Derman makes it in the FT Magazine. An Iconic Physicist working in Finance, and exemplar of an applied scientist for future generations of students to model themselves after.

  • The article doesn’t mention Douglas’s decision to stop working on string theory and go to work for a hedge fund.
  • The Financial Times has its own take on the current state of fundamental physics research, with an article on The new physics.
  • Also at the Financial Times is a good survey of Physicists and the financial markets, describing various current activities of physicists now working in the financial industry.
  • Harvard University Press has just released a new book by Steve Nadis and S.-T. Yau, a history of the Harvard math department entitled A History in Sum: 150 Years of Mathematics at Harvard. It concentrates on the period 1825-1975, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It ends right about the time I arrived there as a student, so covered history that I never had known much about.Harvard’s role as a mathematics research institution began with Benjamin Peirce, who taught there from 1831-1880. It only started to become a world-class institution around 1900, with young faculty who had gone to Germany for their training. The book covers a fairly long list of great 20th-century Harvard mathematicians (including George David Birkhoff, Morse, Whitney, MacLane, Ahlfors, Gleason, Mackey, Zariski, Brauer and Bott), and makes a serious attempt to explain some of the mathematical ideas they developed. As a result, a large part of the book is not just history, but actual exposition at a popular level of a wide range of mathematics, together with quotes from many other prominent mathematicians about the significance of the ideas.

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