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《The Man Who Solved The Market》中文版翻译连载47


《The Man Who Solved The Market》中文版翻译连载47

The MAn Who Solved The Market (50)

For a full month, Patterson surreptitiously jotted down the closing prices that Medallion used for various investments in its portfolio, carefully checking them against pages of the Wall Street Journal, line by line, to see if they matched.


Only after Simons’s numbers checked out did a relieved Patterson turn his full attention to using his mathematical skills to help the effort. It had taken Patterson yEArs to realize that he ACtually enjoyed math. Early in his life, math was just a tool for Patterson, one he used for protection. Patterson suffered from facial dysplasia, a rare congenital disorder that distorted the left side of his face and rendered his left eye blind. An only child who grew up in the Bayswater section of central London, Patterson was sent to Catholic boarding school and bullied unmercifully. Unable to speak with his parents more than once a week, and determined to maintain a stiff British upper lip, Patterson turned his prowess in the classroom into an advantage.


“I evolved into the school brain, a British stock character, “Patterson recalls.  “I was seen as odd but useful, so they left me alone.”


Patterson was mostly attracted to mathematics because he was über-competitIVe, and it was gratifying to discover a field he could dominate. Only at the age of sixteen did Patterson notice he actually enjoyed the subject. A few years later, after graduating from the UniveRSIty of Cambridge, Patterson took a job that required him to write commercial code. He proved a natural, gaining an advantage over fellow mathematicians, few of whom knew how to program computers.


A strong chess player, Patterson spent much of his free time at a London coffee shop that rented chess boards and hosted intense matched between customers. Patterson regularly trounced players many years his senior. After a while, he deduced the shop was no more than a front — there was a secret staircase leADIng to an illegal, high-stakes poker game run by a local thug. Patterson gained entrance to the game and it quickly became clear he was a stud at poker as well, pocketing fistfuls of cash. The tough guy took notice of Patterson’s ablilities, making him an offer he figured Patterson couldn’t refuse: If you hustle chess down-stairs for me, I’ll share your winnings and handle all your losses.


There was no risk to Patterson, but he rejected the offer, nonetheless. The brute told him he was making a big mistake.


“Are you nuts? You can’t make any money in mathematics,” he sneered.


The experience taught Patterson to distrust most moneymaking operations, even those that appeared legitimate — one reason why he was so skeptical of Simons years later.


After graduate school, Patterson thrived as a cryptologist for the British government, building statistical models to unscramble intercepted messages and encrypt secret messages in a unit made famous during World War II when Alan Turing famously broke Germany’s encryption codes. Patterson harnessed the simple-yet-profound Bayes’ theorem of probability, which argues that, by updating one’s initial beliefs with new, objects information, one can arrive at improved understanding.


Patterson solved a long-standing problem in the field, deciphering a pattern in the data others had missed, becoming so valuable to the government that some top-secret documents shared with allies were labeled “For US Eyes Only and For Nick Patterson.”


“It was James Bond stuff,” he says.


Several years later, when a new pay scale was instituted that elevated the group’s administrators above the cryptologists, Patterson became livid.


“It was the insult, not the money,” says Patterson, who told his wife he’d rather drive a bus than remain in the group. “I had to get out of there.”


Patterson moved to the Institute for Defense Analyses, where he met Simons and Baum, but he turned nervous as he approached his fiftieth birthday.


“My father had a hard time in his late fifties, and that worried me,” recalls Patterson, who had two children at the time who were preparing to go to colleague. “I didn’t have enough money, and I didn’t want to go down that road.”


When a senior colleague received permission to travel to Russia for an amatEUR-radio conference, Patterson realized the Cold War was ending, and he had to act fast.


I’m going to lose my job!


Fortuitously, Simons soon called, out of the blue, sounding urgent.


“We need to talk,” Simons said. “Will you work for me?”


A move to Renaissance made sense to Patterson. Simons’s group was analyzing large amounts of messy, complicated pricing data to predict future prices. Patterson thought his natural skepticism could prove valuable discerning true signals from random market fluctuations. He also knew his programming skills would come in handy. And, unlike many of Renaissance’s dozen or so employees, Patterson actually read the business pages, at least occasionally, and knew a bit about finance.


“I thought I was pretty cutting-edge because I owned an index fund,” he says.


Patterson saw the world “becoming extremely mathematical” and knew computer firepower was expanding exponentially. He sensed Simons had an opportunity to revolutionize investing by applying high-level math and statistics.


“Fifty years earlier, we couldn’t have done anything, but this was the perfect time,” he says.


After lugging a computer into the corner of Simons’s office and concluding that Renaissance likely wasn’t a fraud, Patterson began helping Laufer with a stubborn problem. Profitable trade ideas are only half the game; the act of buying and selling investments can itself affect prices to such a degree that gains can be whittled away. It’s meaningless to know that copper prices will rise from $3.00 a contract to $3.10, for example, if your buying pushes the price up to $3.05 before you even have a chance to complete your transaction — perhaps as dealers hike the price or as rivals do their own buying — slashing potential profits by half.




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