[R-SIG-Finance] Career/Educational Advice - First Post

Julian Lee julianlhe at gmail.com
Mon Sep 29 19:22:46 CEST 2008

Dear all,

I thought that this would be an excellent place to post a question on
career/educational advice for a bioinformatics specialist who is
interested in stepping foot into the world of quants. However, if the
moderators feel that this post is inappropriate, and perhaps out of
topic, feel free to delete it.

Before i begin, i probably ought to introduce myself. I completed my
undergraduate degree from the National University of SIngapore in the
field of COmputational Science Specializing in Life Science. My main
areas of study was engineering mathematics, programming, and molecular
biology/biochemistry/structural biology. My first job was at a local
polytechnic teaching science and mathematics to first year students. I
then moved to National Cancer Centre as Bioinformatics Specialist,
where i specialize in the analysis of microarrays, genomic data. Some
of you maybe familiar with R. Gentleman's Bioconductor project, and
I've been utilizing many of BIoconductor's packages in my work. My
main project is in the prediction of chemosensitivity of Gastric
Cancer from genomic data. The biologists are currently validating some
of my SVM (support vector machine) computer model and if all goes
well, i will soon make my first publication!

I have been using R for the past 2 years and am quite addicted to it.
In playing around with R/Bioconductor, I bumped into Rmetrics and am
amazed with the work by Diethelm Würtz and his team of developers.
That got me interested in the field of financial
engineering/computational finance.

Here are some of my questions, (i apologize if there is some
over-simplification on my part)

1. I have been looking at some masters graduate programmes and they
come in all shapes and sizes. Some are more mathematical (theoretical)
than others, while some are computational, ie NYU's mathematical
finance program versus CMU's Computational Finance graduate degree. As
a quant in the industry, does the content of these degrees matter?

2. How much of open-source technology, R/Rmetrics is being used by the
financial industry? Correct me if i'm wrong, but I'm informed that the
standard tool for quants is C++ and VBA, with a wee bit of Matlab.
There is significant difference among the tools mentioned, but I would
like to gauge how much R/Rmetrics has been adopted into the financial
industry. Or has this been placed into the field of academia? I ask
because I think R/bioconductor had similar problems, most complain
about its "user-unfriendlyness", ie lack of GUI, hence difficulty in
using it in their work (many resort to Excel)

3. Is it possible for someone to be a quant without any post-graduate
training? I've just recently joined this forum, and have learnt quite
a bit (i drew my first stock market graph of the KLSE the other day),
from the use of Rmetrics. Simply put, can someone be a quant from
being and a superb R/Rmetrics user, ie thorough understanding of the
functions, when to use them and how to use them etc.

Thank you

julian lee

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