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Computational, theoretical or mathematical physics for finance (Quan)?

  1. Mar 10, 2014 #1
    My purpose is to take a phd in physics, and after few years as researcher to become a Quant.

    What phd is better for this purpose: computational, theoretical or mathematical physics?

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2014 #2


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    I would suggest mathematics and economics.
    You do not need physics to become a quant.
    Read also "The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable." by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
    Maybe you will change your mind.
    (how stupid things may require high tech and sophisticated brains)
  4. Mar 10, 2014 #3

    I don't want to do physics to become a quant.
    I want to do the researcher for some years, for personal interest.

    But I don't want to this job for ever, just some years.

    And I'm studying physics (Bachelor in EU ) not only for job, but for personal interest.

    Anyway, thanks for the book.
  5. Mar 10, 2014 #4


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    There are also M.S. Degrees in computational/quantitative finance. Although as for undergrad, I think physics or applied math with maybe a minor in economics would be better than going straight economics. Computational finance is basically applied physics/math (linear algebra, partial differentiation, triple integrals, etc.) I watched a video from U of Washington and the prof said that most econ/finance majors are way behind in the math department upon entering their program.

    But for a PhD in physics, quantitative finance is something that may pay the bills if you can literally find nothing else. Don't spend 7 years getting a PhD in physics just hoping to get a job as a quant.
  6. Mar 12, 2014 #5

    I am in Italy, the PhD is 3-4 year.

    Why you say "quantitative finance is something that may pay the bills"?
    The income is not good?

    How much it is, approximately?

    What about statistical physics?
    Is it better to switch from physics to quantitative finance?
  7. Mar 12, 2014 #6
    Khahan is saying he wants to do physics because he likes it. He wants to learn it, but he recognizes (probably from other posts on this forum) that lifelong research and postdocs and the mad race isn't what he wants to do for the rest of his life. Fulfill the personal goal, then switch over to being a quant.

    My advice would be computational, if only because you'll learn software and whatnot that will be able to apply to being a quant. Try to take some electives concerning math-heavy economics classes, maybe.

    Also, statistical physics might be an option. I'd still do computational, but take my advice with a grain of salt.
  8. Mar 12, 2014 #7


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    I honestly have no idea what kind of quant jobs there are in Italy or Europe in general. I have only researched the situation in New York.

    What I meant by "quantitative finance is something that may pay the bills" is that, generally, someone who gets a PhD in physics is hoping for s job doing research. However, quantitative finance may be a valid alternative for those who can't get a research/professor position, but it probably isn't a physics PhD's first choice.

    I would say no to Mathematical Physics. And then theoretical and computational are very closely related anyway. Most theoretical physics will involve some form of computation/programming. So an area that you find interesting that is theoretical and involves computational methods would be best.

    You might want to read through these two threads, although they are concerned with the situation in America:

    Yes, I realize that. Many people adopt this plan. However we're still falling into the trap of suggesting to him which branch of physics would be best to end up as a "quant." And it isn't exactly a guaranteed alternative.
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