The Only Prize That Matters

“Wow!  As I look out upon all of your expectant faces, it occurs to me that I should have written a speech.”  Given the circumstances, the line was funny in and of itself.  Delivered with a gulp that would have done Beatle Baily proud, it all but slayed.  It helped that mathematicians aren’t one whit as stodgy as the world purports; not even in Norway!  Moreover, it didn’t hurt that as soon as I landed the line I dropped the “aw-shucks” persona.  It was a poor illusion, anyway; as anyone could tell by simply examining the excellent fit of my “monkey suit.”

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You’d do better to “Exaggerate the Losses”

A line from Jackson Browne’s excellent song “The Road” keeps running through my head: “You forget about the losses, you exaggerate the wins.”  While often true in life, I’ve found this to be especially true in trading.  Indeed, I’ve only met a mere handful of traders who excel at record keeping.  The irony, of course, is that it’s literally insane to be a trader and do otherwise; sort of like swatting at an overpriced piñata that they keep on moving out of reach.

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Genocide For Beginners

I read this story once where a monkey gets uplifted or something; yanked out of monkey fucking paradise and forced to become a super-smart yet miserable slave.  The story went on to pose the moral question: should he exterminate the fuckers who fucked him, or should he out-human the humans and take it up the ass.

Needless to say, the ethical little beastie spread ‘em.

Me: not so much!

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The Singularity Starts Now

“Everyone talks about the Singularity; but no one does a thing about it!”

Nothing!  Not a laugh, not even a snigger.  You’d think that a theatre full of geeks would contain at least a single person who’d thought that I was funny; but no.  They all just sat there, like veal; probably pissed that an unknown speaker was delaying Kurzweil’s entrance.  Under any other set of circumstances, I would have been a nervous wreck; convinced that I’d lost them.  I had a trick or two up my sleeve, though, so I pressed on.

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2003 UB313 was seen by actual human eyeballs!

(Note: this article was originally published in 2005 on my defunt astronomy tourism site:  A related press release may be found here.  2003 UB313 was ultimately named Eris, and in the process helped to dethrone Pluto to “dwarf-planet” status.)

On the morning of October 9th, 2005 a small team of amateur astronomers visually observed the 10th planet using McDonald Observatory’s 2.1m Otto Struve Telescope. Keith Murdock completed the first observation at 1:08 AM CDT. Louis Berman made a second confirming observation at 1:15 AM CDT. Over the next hour the planet was subsequently observed by seven additional team members and two McDonald Observatory staff. Continue reading

Squid’s Don’t Have Lids

Human Eye Compared To Squid Eye

Human Eye Compared To Squid Eye

Squids and humans have little in common.  Indeed, our last common ancestor was a small Precambrian “worm” that lived some 750 million years ago; way before the evolution of our camera-like eyes.  Even so, cephalopods use a lens to project an image onto a retina; just like us.  The amazing thing is that the eyes of the vertebrates and cephalopods evolved independently; in very different ways and at very different times.  Scientists have a lovely term for this: Convergent Evolution.  (Note: P.Z. Myers, of Pharyngula fame—and one of my all-time favorite bloggers—has a slightly different take on this which, for the scientifically inclined, makes an interesting read.)

So what does this have to do with trading? A lot, as it turns out. I’ll leave the details for another day but suffice it to say that the majority of trading systems, commercial or otherwise, are incomplete, unusable or simply crap.  One need only look at one of the market leaders, like NinjaTrader or TradeStation, to know this is unquestionably true.  After all, no one gets into trading to sit in front of a console and “trade;” they want to “make money.”  The platforms, however, are all about mechanics but nothing about methodology.  It’s like being asked on the operating table to pick your own anesthetic.  Even worse, the second they put you under you have to somehow manage to wield the knife too.  No sane human would allow such a thing to occur in an operatory, so why do they allow it with their equally vital finances?

So back to squid, there are plenty of trading choices out there, but inasmuch as each and every one is a demonstrable fail, it’s time for a little re-evolution. Hence the squid; who I declare henceforward to be my most favored mascot…

BTW, squids really don’t have eyelids, although the Myopsids (gotta love the name!) do have a sort of cornea which, according to Danna Staaf, “…satisfies all their eye-covering needs…”

I’d Rather Blather Than Talk Sensible Matter

HeadshotInasmuch as this is my very first post, you might expect me to take the opportunity to lay out a cogent well-reasoned plan of action, maybe even the raison d’être for foisting my blather on the world.  I’m not going to do that, though, since the entirety of my plan is to have “no plan.”  With that said, I do hope to start a conversation with a tiny fraction of the population.  My intended audience: those few individuals who are both interested in automated trading and have the wherewithal to design, develop, or otherwise participate in the fabrication of such systems.  I’ll consider this blog to be an outrageous success if it introduces me to a mere handful of them.

To give a quick bio that omits most of the essentials, I was born and remain—for the present—very much alive.  More to the point, I spent a good part of the preceding 12 years writing custom automated trading systems, historical tick-data feeds and repositories, technical-analysis agents, order-management systems and services, and trade visualization tools.  I also wrote six different FIX-protocol trading libraries from scratch.  Then, to cap things off, I ran countless simulations.  By countless, I certainly mean a number in the low millions, although I might be underreporting things by as much as a full order of magnitude.  To put things in perspective, a typical run would iterate five or six ranged parameters against three years of tick and/or bar-level Forex data, using self-tuning genetic programming-based AI frameworks.  The simulations typically ran on four desktop-grade PCs, although in the last year or so I’ve taken to running simulations in the Azure cloud.

Having delivered myself of an exceedingly long mouthful, I’ll have to leave all of the interesting personal bits for another post.  In the meantime, welcome!