I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. I wrote and illustrated my first one at the age of five. It’s hard to pick favorites, but I have a soft spot for biographies. Toulouse-Lautrec’s life was among the first ones I read about and it made a long-lasting impression on me early on. Mircea Eliade‘s works occupied entire shelves in our living room and I devoured his autobiographical novels one-by-one. In college I discovered the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures collection. Stravinsky’s Poetics of Music and Borges’ This Craft of Verse are dear to my heart.
Next came foreign languages, starting with English in kindergarten. After some mildly boring classroom practice like “Mary has a yellow pencil” I discovered that I could slowly begin to understand the lyrics of the music my parents listened to. I played and re-played those songs until I understood every word. I could taste true power.
I happened upon rhythmic gymnastics around the same time. Favorite apparatus: ribbon.
I fell in love with math in fifth grade and never grew out of it. I solved olympiad problems for fun and cried my eyes out so that my parents would allow me to go to math camps. My favorites: geometry, topology, and functional analysis. Not too many people may know this, but Sinaia in winter is a wonderful place for a math camp.
I fell in love with programming in high-school. I owe it to my dad who steered me towards it at a time when I was stubbornly focused on pure math.
My desire to do both led me to image processing and computer graphics. I crossed the Atlantic and started from an applied perspective, working with electron micrographs and crystallographic electron density maps.
I discovered I was good at making computers do things we do effortlessly with our senses like seeing patterns in noisy images and adding depth to otherwise flat computer screens. That led me to exploring related areas like computer vision and artificial intelligence in search of solutions to image and geometry processing problems.
The rise of the services economy brought about a shift in focus: data analysis. It made for a captivating challenge: make the computer find things we could not find with our senses.
I resolved to move closer to the source of the data while continuing to do what I loved most: math and programming. That’s when I decided to take a stroll down Wall St. It was January 2008. What is that thunder murmuring in the distance? Markets crashing in a financial hurricane, you say? Nah, think of that deluge of data waiting to be explored! I took the leap with eyes wide open.
My “official” bio:
I am a Quantitative Researcher at Citadel LLC in New York where I manage the Interest Rate Options quantitative research team.
I have a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Purdue University. In addition, I have completed graduate coursework in Financial Mathematics at NYU and Big Data at Harvard University. Prior to joining Citadel, I was a Director in the Global Markets Division at BNP Paribas where I managed the Interest Rate Options & Inflation quantitative research team. Before transitioning into Finance, I was a research staff member at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center.
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