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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quant: A Dangerous Word Frequently Misused and Misunderstood

Quant: A Dangerous Word Frequently Misused and Misunderstood

 2004 was the tipping point for the word “quant,” when it moved from Wall Street jargon to popular vocabulary due to Emanuel Derman’s autobiography, My Life as a Quant. The word was used in the financial press before 2004, but always accompanied by a shorthand definition. Since 2004, its use has exploded, and it is rarely accompanied by even pro forma definition. It has also shown up in non-financial writings.

The modern sense of the word goes back to the mid 1980s, but it didn’t become common even in quantitative financial circles for another decade. It has been used in many overlapping senses, with different connotations and in different contexts, often with only vague definition, and has evolved over time. No precise definition will cover all historical uses, or even all current uses.

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