Javno – Last week, New York University and Carnegie Mellon sent a new class of math whizzes out into a profession that is both blamed for the financial collapse and charged with preventing it happening again.
Many of these so-called quantitative analysts, or "quants," graduating from elite financial engineering courses will end up writing computer programs that handle an ever greater share of market trading.
Because some of their mathematical models failed to take into account factors that later turned out to be crucial, quants have been blamed for compounding risk and exacerbating the crash in financial markets.
But far from going into decline, those with financial engineering degrees are still in demand as hedge funds and banks seek ways to measure previously unforeseen risks and factor them into their models.
The profession’s reputation took a beating in August 2007, when some quant funds — which try to beat the market by crunching vast amounts of data at lightning speed — lost a third of their value in a matter of days.
Many blamed the math commandos for failing to factor in extreme events, in this case unprecedented numbers of home mortgage foreclosures.