[This post is a review of my forthcoming book, “Principles of Quantitative Development,” to be published by John Wiley & Sons in Feb 2010. This review is written by Shayne Fletcher, Executive Director, Nomura, and author of “Financial Modelling in Python,” and is posted here with the reviewer’s permission.]
In “Principles of Quantitative Development”, Thulasidas has offered a contribution that is somewhat unique in the literature associated with the field of Quantitative Development. In that specialised, narrow domain, technical books abound. Most such titles are concerned with the intricacies of the application of specific programming language to the problems of financial engineering or, expositions of advanced mathematics as used in the pricing models of exotic financial derivative products. Thulasidas however has taken a very different tact. Focusing instead on what he terms “the big picture”, Thulasidas offers us his insights into the role of Quantitative Development in the broader context of a bank’s “trading platform”. Armed with such insights, he shows us how an understanding of the varied usages of the trading platform can and should be used to influence and shape its design.
In the opening chapters, the book is concerned with defining what is meant by the term “trading platform”. In doing so, Thulasidas necessarily reviews the “architecture” of a bank from the point of view of a Quantitative Developer. That is, he discusses the nature and interactions of the front, middle and back offices of a bank, the different roles that professionals in each of those areas satisfy and how each of their respective needs induce a different set of requirements on the trading platform. Moving on, he reviews the nature of trades, the so-called trade “life cycle” and how different views of a trade are required as a function of the life cycle and the business role of the user.
Having established a broad understanding of the requirements for a trading platform, Thulasidas turns his attention to translating those requirements into design decisions for trading platforms. Along the way he considers such aspects of design as choice of programming languages, issues relating to scalability and extensibility, security and auditing, representations for market and trade data and a trading platform’s macro architecture whilst all the way remaining focussed on ensuring that all business needs identified in the earlier chapters are given consideration and catered for.
Going from the general to the specific, Thulasidas in later chapters introduces a flexible derivatives pricing tool (the source code for which accompanies the book). This program in itself will no doubt serve as an excellent starting point for Quantitative Development teams charged with the production of an in-house trading platform. Perhaps of even greater benefit though is Thulasidas’s critique of the pricing tool, that is, in his explanation of how the supplied program fails to meet the requirements of a complete trading platform and how the program needs to be extended in order to be considered one. In this way, the line of thought of earlier chapters is reinforced and brought sharply into focus.
Throughout the book, Thulasidas manages to convey his ideas with remarkable eloquence and lucidity. Understanding is enhanced by numerous rich graphics outlining processes and their design (both in the software and work-flow sense). The reader’s attention and interest is never lost and a great deal of entertainment is to be found in the numerous side-bars, the “Big Pictures” (in effect an enjoyable mini-series of magazine style articles in their own right).
As Thulasidas himself notes, the subject matter of his book is broad. Accordingly, the potential readership of this title is equally broad. Notably, Quantitative Developers at the beginning of their careers stand most to gain from this book. The fact is though that even the most seasoned of banking professionals would profit from its reading. Quantitative Developers, Quantitative Analysts, Traders, Risk Managers, IT professionals and their Project Managers, individuals considering switching from academia or other industries to a career in banking… Readers from each and all of these groups will find Thulasidas’s work informative and thought provoking.