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MFE Rankings for 2008

Arcane math, IMO, has two purposes on Wall Street

1) Putting a price tag on something that nobody else can possibly know how to do so for...

2) To beat the stuffing out of the markets like nobody's business. It can be done, and to attest to that, we have The Simons Foundation, Math for America, and D.E. Shaw Research, which are all very societally beneficial organizations, funded by the fact that the people heading them effectively have their own money printing press.

So when I hear professors say that the market can't be beat...it very much can. And it has been, and most significantly by...former Professors.
I am skeptical of this algorithm. Far more from the fact that Emanuel Derman's words ring loud in my mind in terms of what makes a good MFE program. I stated this at the picnic, but for those not present there, I'll reiterate my thoughts.

Quantitative Finance is not rocket science (okay, fine, stochastic calculus is rocket science, at least originally). The concepts are not something that any professor with some pedagogical talent should have trouble teaching.

I had a student call me today debating actuarial vs. QF, and what I told him in regard to MFE was this: everything learned in FE has already existed. (For the record, even Black Scholes was ripped out of thermodynamics I believe! Although Ed Thorp came up with it earlier but just didn't publish it because he was hoarding it for himself >=]...which seems very believable considering Myron Scholes's real world...performance, to put it kindly) I believe that Dr. Raynes really put it best in his interview, and I recommend many people read that. I think it's the 2nd best one on the site, next to Dr. Derman's.

To this extent, what differentiates good QF programs? IMO, it's this:

1) Courses taught by current or former practitioners (that decided to go out on top, mind you!, such as Dr. Derman, Dr. Raynes, and Dr. Frey). If it doesn't work, it shouldn't be taught. The end. Which is why I think that unless someone can get to Columbia MFE, that Baruch should be choice #2 by process of elimination.
2) Focus on the foundational tools that any potential financial engineer would need as marketable skills--the employers can teach the finance. They need someone who will be able to use those concepts, however.
3) Why is Stony Brook not up there at all? I mean a program built and constantly being improved by, oh, a guy worth, I don't know, some 9 figures in all probability, with close ties to (and responsible for a significant aspect of) for all intents and purposes, the real-world version of the Philosopher's Stone? Then again, considering that the program is more or less designed to feed into the PhD program at Stony Brook, and that the door to the Most Definitely Final Dungeon Hedge Fund is locked without a doctorate, maybe those are the reasons...