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The Physics of Wall Street: James Weatherall Public Lecture

Wednesday Feb. 1, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET

James Weatherall

Twenty-first century finance is built on complex mathematical tools developed by “quants,” a different breed of investor with expertise in fields such as physics, mathematics, and computer science. These models have been the basis for both new trading strategies and new financial products, leading to untold wealth.

In some cases, however, these models have done more damage than good, making markets less stable and introducing new systemic risk.

In his Perimeter Institute Public Lecture, James Weatherall will tell the story of how, in the aftermath of World War II, some innovative physicists and mathematicians saw surprising connections between physics, gambling, and finance, and put those connections to use to become the first quants. He will introduce some of the ideas behind modern quantitative trading and show how the history of mathematical reasoning in finance reveals that these models can be extremely useful — but only if we understand their limitations.

About James Weatherall

James Owen Weatherall is Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of California, Irvine. His work primarily concerns the mathematical and conceptual foundations of physics, though he also maintains serious interests in general philosophy of science and in philosophy of economics. He is the author of The Physics of Wall Street (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) and, most recently, Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing (Yale University Press, 2016), which explores the structure of empty space in physics from the 17th century to today. In addition to his academic work, Weatherall has written on physics, philosophy, and finance for numerous magazines and newspapers, including Scientific American, The Financial Times, and Slate.

General information:

Attendance to the lecture is free, but advance tickets are required. Due to the overwhelming response to past lectures, tickets will be honoured until 6:45 pm only. If you have not arrived by 6:45 pm your reservation may be filled by guests in our waiting line, and you may be asked to join the end of the waiting line.

Waiting line experience:

There will be a waiting line for last minute cancelled (or ‘no show’) seats on the night of the lecture. Doors open at 5:30 pm. Come to Perimeter and pick-up a waiting line chit at the Waiting Line sign and then participate in pre-lecture activities – no need to wait in line. An announcement will be made in the Bistro at 6:45pm if theatre seats are available. Note: you must arrive in person to be part of the waiting line and be in the Bistro when the waiting line announcement is made.

No disappointments:

Everyone who comes to Perimeter will be able to participate in the lecture. The public lecture will be shown simultaneously on closed circuit television in the licensed comfort of the Black Hole Bistro for any members of the waiting line who are not able to get a theatre seat.

Live webcast online:

Enjoy the live webcast of Perimeter Institute Public Lectures from the comfort of your own home. Join us at 7pm ET night of the lecture and be part of the online audience.

For most lectures the on-demand playback will be online within 24 hours after the live event. Check our YouTube page for the playbacks.

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