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Actuarial studies or computer science

Ryanfdz

Member
My son starts at uni next year. He is an aspiring Quant and will study Mathematics. Do you recommend a double degree in Actuarial Studies or Computer Science?
 

YankeesR

Active Member
C++
Computer science, most actuaries do not even have actuarial studies degrees. For more context, the college I attend has an actuarial studies major as well and the core curriculum for it is a few classes that put what they learn in a first semester probability course into word problems related to passing the first two exams. Seems like a waste of time in my opinion.
 
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Ryanfdz

Member
Computer science, most actuaries do not even have actuarial studies degrees. For more context, the college I attend has an actuarial studies major as well and the core curriculum for it is a few classes that put what they learn in a first semester probability course into word problems related to passing the first two exams. Seems like a waste of time in my opinion.
Thank you. I was thinking more in terms of skill sets. Will computer science give him better skills to be a Quant as compared to skills he will gain within Actuarial studies.
 

YankeesR

Active Member
C++
Thank you. I was thinking more in terms of skill sets. Will computer science give him better skills to be a Quant as compared to skills he will gain within Actuarial studies.
In my opinion, yes. CS is more valuable as opposed to actuarial studies in quant finance and in general. If you need another opinion though, click the search button in the top right corner, type in keywords such as actuary or actuarial studies and you will see this question has been asked before, and has been answered by actuaries and people who have a actuarial studies degree and tried/did transition to quant finance after. Is it possible? definitely. Once again though to be direct, if it were me, no way I do an actuarial studies degree. Math with CS opens more doors.
 
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Ryanfdz

Member
In my opinion, yes. CS is more valuable as opposed to actuarial studies in quant finance and in general. If you need another opinion though, click the search button in the top right corner, type in keywords such as actuary or actuarial studies and you will see this question has been asked before, and has been answered by actuaries and people who have a actuarial studies degree and tried/did transition to quant finance after. Is it possible? definitely. Once again though to be direct, if it were me, no way I do an actuarial studies degree, math with CS opens more doors.
Thank you -apprecate it
 

David.Wan

Active Member
C++
Computer science for sure. He can go math/statistics as well. Nothing hurts. But make sure study lots of computer science courses.

Don't waste his time in ActSci. You will thank me later :)
 

Ryanfdz

Member
Computer science for sure. He can go math/statistics as well. Nothing hurts. But make sure study lots of computer science courses.

Don't waste his time in ActSci. You will thank me later :)
Yes - he intends to major in AI which includes a machine learning component
 

rpgquant

Member
I have a degree in actuarial studies I only chose it because it was "prestigious" and the entry requirements were higher than CS
kinda regret it tbh.
you learn a lot of useless stuff not related to quant such as survival models, life contingencies,
really really boring subjects thats easier than accounting. but my school gave me the liberty of choosing many subjects related to quant,
 

Ryanfdz

Member
I have a degree in actuarial studies I only chose it because it was "prestigious" and the entry requirements were higher than CS
kinda regret it tbh.
you learn a lot of useless stuff not related to quant such as survival models, life contingencies,
really really boring subjects thats easier than accounting. but my school gave me the liberty of choosing many subjects related to quant,
Thank you - it is good to hear from someone who has actually done Actuarial. Would you have rather picked Computer Science?
 

rpgquant

Member
Thank you - it is good to hear from someone who has actually done Actuarial. Would you have rather picked Computer Science?
TLDR; Actuarial is really overrated, if your son really wants be a quant choose statistics or finance, computer science doesn't provide a strong enough foundation.


If I was doing a double degree maybe ill consider it, computer science with statistics, if single degree then no, just bachelor of statistics.
Why you shouldn't let your son do CS:
Your son probably won't have access to VERY VERY important courses such as stochastic modelling(Borel algebra, gaussian process, ), probability theory(probability distributions, first step analysis), bayesian statistics, and also most importantly continuous time finance (Ito's calculus, Ito's lemma, optional sampling theorem, martingales) etc.. the list goes on.
in my school, computer science focuses more on app development, game development, java, HTML, things that aren't really related to quant
the good thing about computer science is that you can learn data mining, machine learning,
But if in my school statistics students learn machine learning and data mining, and big data statistics anyways.
The only downside to statistics at my school at least is that you don't get exposure to C++ and MATLAB.
why you should let your son do CS:
You at least learn matrix theory, in CS,
You learn C++
You learn MATLAB
You learn machine learning, data mining

whatever you do, don't let your son do actuary. I wish I had a parent like you to guide me, my parents didn't really care they just told me to pick whatever. in my/our country (Australia) Actuary is the 3rd most prestigious undergraduate program available, behind law and medicine, I was young and inexperienced so I just went with whatever gave me more social validation.
in conclusion, if your sons goal is to be a quant, then I would strongly advise against CS and actuarial studies.
 

Ryanfdz

Member
TLDR; Actuarial is really overrated, if your son really wants be a quant choose statistics or finance, computer science doesn't provide a strong enough foundation.


If I was doing a double degree maybe ill consider it, computer science with statistics, if single degree then no, just bachelor of statistics.
Why you shouldn't let your son do CS:
Your son probably won't have access to VERY VERY important courses such as stochastic modelling(Borel algebra, gaussian process, ), probability theory(probability distributions, first step analysis), bayesian statistics, and also most importantly continuous time finance (Ito's calculus, Ito's lemma, optional sampling theorem, martingales) etc.. the list goes on.
in my school, computer science focuses more on app development, game development, java, HTML, things that aren't really related to quant
the good thing about computer science is that you can learn data mining, machine learning,
But if in my school statistics students learn machine learning and data mining, and big data statistics anyways.
The only downside to statistics at my school at least is that you don't get exposure to C++ and MATLAB.
why you should let your son do CS:
You at least learn matrix theory, in CS,
You learn C++
You learn MATLAB
You learn machine learning, data mining

whatever you do, don't let your son do actuary. I wish I had a parent like you to guide me, my parents didn't really care they just told me to pick whatever. in my/our country (Australia) Actuary is the 3rd most prestigious undergraduate program available, behind law and medicine, I was young and inexperienced so I just went with whatever gave me more social validation.
in conclusion, if your sons goal is to be a quant, then I would strongly advise against CS and actuarial studies.
 

Ryanfdz

Member
Thanks a lot for this detailed feedback - its incredibly useful. He still has a couple of months to select his courses. It will be a double degree - Mathematics (major in Applied Mathematics) and at this stage Computer Science (major in AI which includes machine learning)
 

rpgquant

Member
Thanks a lot for this detailed feedback - its incredibly useful. He still has a couple of months to select his courses. It will be a double degree - Mathematics (major in Applied Mathematics) and at this stage Computer Science (major in AI which includes machine learning)
no worries in that case I highly recommend swapping out mathematics for statistics. All the mathematics you need for quant you will learn in a statistics degree + more. in my opinion, statistics is much more useful if you want to do quant. mathematics kinda goes off on a different tangent. im not 100% sure but general consensus is maths is also kinda overrated unless you want to go into academia.
 

noether-skolem

Well-Known Member
C++
I mostly agree with @rpgquant 's post above, but I wouldn't be so strongly against CS major. I know people with CS degrees who took some maths/stats courses and work as quant developers. It also opens up other career paths in case your son wants to go down the tech route. I do agree that CS major alone without additional maths/stats courses likely won't be enough to be a quant - even most MFE programs have specific requirements like linear algebra, probability, stochastic etc.

Double major in CS + maths or stats would be great, even a CS major + maths/stats minor (or the other way around) should work as long as all the relevant courses are covered. Most of the topics required by top MFE programs (linear algebra, probability etc.) are first-second year courses in both maths and stats majors, so the deciding factor should be what other courses are offered by one major and not the other, which your son may be interested in.
 

Ryanfdz

Member
I mostly agree with @rpgquant 's post above, but I wouldn't be so strongly against CS major. I know people with CS degrees who took some maths/stats courses and work as quant developers. It also opens up other career paths in case your son wants to go down the tech route. I do agree that CS major alone without additional maths/stats courses likely won't be enough to be a quant - even most MFE programs have specific requirements like linear algebra, probability, stochastic etc.

Double major in CS + maths or stats would be great, even a CS major + maths/stats minor (or the other way around) should work as long as all the relevant courses are covered. Most of the topics required by top MFE programs (linear algebra, probability etc.) are first-second year courses in both maths and stats majors, so the deciding factor should be what other courses are offered by one major and not the other, which your son may be interested in.
Thanks a lot - great information to consider while making a decision.
 

David.Wan

Active Member
C++
I have a degree in actuarial studies I only chose it because it was "prestigious" and the entry requirements were higher than CS
kinda regret it tbh.
you learn a lot of useless stuff not related to quant such as survival models, life contingencies,
really really boring subjects thats easier than accounting. but my school gave me the liberty of choosing many subjects related to quant,
To be fair, survival analysis is actually not completely useless :P

In the world of electronic trading, you often don't know the price of the distribution unless you are deal or tie (with the best offer). The way it works is that you only have censored data. So the technique in survival analysis actually helps you kinda best fit a price distribution which optimize your hit rate.

But again, I can probably learn the same thing in a statistic degree.

In my opinion, a degree's subject can be flexible as long as it is completely quantitative driven. You can always get the skills later.

Here is my most valuable advice:

1. if you are from a heavy math major degree, do a lot of leetcode (when i mean a lot I mean A LOT)
2. if you are from a heavy CS major, make sure you have knowledge of probability, statistics, linear algebra and calculus. To be fair, you most likely get this in your 1-2nd year mandatory courses (except probability)
3. get a MFE degree
 

Ryanfdz

Member
To be fair, survival analysis is actually not completely useless :P

In the world of electronic trading, you often don't know the price of the distribution unless you are deal or tie (with the best offer). The way it works is that you only have censored data. So the technique in survival analysis actually helps you kinda best fit a price distribution which optimize your hit rate.

But again, I can probably learn the same thing in a statistic degree.

In my opinion, a degree's subject can be flexible as long as it is completely quantitative driven. You can always get the skills later.

Here is my most valuable advice:

1. if you are from a heavy math major degree, do a lot of leetcode (when i mean a lot I mean A LOT)
2. if you are from a heavy CS major, make sure you have knowledge of probability, statistics, linear algebra and calculus. To be fair, you most likely get this in your 1-2nd year mandatory courses (except probability)
3. get a MFE degree
Thanks David - very valuable advice
 
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