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Comment Re:Umberto Eco (Score 1) 647

People who think that conspiracy theories are cool definitely should read Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. Twice. It's not the conspiracies that are dangerous.

And on that subject, do have a look at his latest, The Prague Cemetery. Very scary stuff.

(Speaking of FP, if your trip takes you anywhere near Paris, make sure to visit the Musée des Arts et Métiers! You can see the working Pendulum in the church next door; plus, the museum itself is Nerd Heaven, and the nearby Métro station is a brilliant bit of steampunk décor.)

Comment Re:too bad (Score 1) 210

Well, the argument is that it does add liquidity to the markets, and tightens bid-ask spreads, which are useful functions for investors and traders both large and small: your orders are more likely to get filled quickly, and at a better price.

However, high-frequency trading (HFT) does lead to some very interesting, um, emergent phenomena. Check out the beautiful graphics produced by Nanex, dissecting the Flash Crash and other assorted HFT weirdness.

Comment Re:I see this in code I work on all the time (Score 1) 312

Well said. A good way to think about and to organize your sanity checks is to follow Bertrand Meyers' practice of programming by contract. If you check preconditions and postconditions in your code (even if only during test runs), you'll catch all sorts of misbehaviour early.

Comment Re:Good thing (Score 1) 240

Good points, and I'd agree that the Internet has a certain "liberal" bias -- but in a classical liberal sense. I certainly don't see that it "tugs to the Left", or to the Right either. If anything, it seems to have a very individualistic, small-l libertarian flavour, being opposed to interference from governments of all political stripes, however well-intentioned or hostile. Let's hope that that continues, and that your prediction turns out to be wrong.

Comment Re:Fractals.. a gateway drug to more complex model (Score 1) 131

Glad to see someone else mention this. Everyone knows about his work on fractal geometry, but few people realize that since the 1950s he was interested in the financial markets as well, being one of the first to apply computer technologies to market data. I highly recommend his very readable book, "The (Mis)Behavior of Markets".

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.