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Caroline Ellison formerly a Jane Street quant and an Alameda Research quant since almost its inception shares her story of the paths that led her to becoming a fulltime trader. I have a fascination with quants relationships with math. My classmates and I would always whisper to each other in high school, “when are ever going to use this in real life” yet here I get the chance to speak with people using these things every day, generating wealth and analyzing the world with math. Like Trabucco, I asked Caroline to dive into her relationship with it, and she explained that it was intuitive; her parents are Economics professors, and her dad writes math books for children. With an upbringing like that, I dare say it is hard to deviate from a mathematical path. As such, Caroline was involved in math competitions early on and gained a deep appreciation and involvement with it. With the thought process, she would enter academia and dedicate herself to it.
What’s perhaps even more exciting than a quant using math in the real world is the relationship Trabucco, and now Caroline share with the literary world. You’d think brains work one way or another, but this doesn’t seem to be true. Intelligence is intelligence and as perhaps is to be expected bleeds across multiple disciplines. Her favorite book was Harry Potter, and after being read the first book, her patience was worn thin and, at five years old, began reading them on her own.
We then get into getting away from Boston and heading to Stanford. The college experience, deciding on a math major, and the introduction to trading internships. She tells the story of being an intern at Jane Street and then deciding to return to Jane Street, rather than pursue a fifth year of university for a master’s degree. Excelling on a world-famous trading firm’s equity desk and leaving to join Alameda after a cryptic coffee meetup with Sam Bankman.
Enter scene: cryptocurrency. Adapting from equities to crypto and releasing assumptions that went with that—using her model building skills to create strategies and apply them to a new fascinating idiosyncratic trading class. One of the best parts of the conversation is when Caroline shares lessons learned over these years at Alameda.
We close our delightful conversation with an explanation of what EA is and why she is a part of it, satisfaction with your career path, and writing LARPs. LARPs are live roll action plays where characters are created and then given the freedom to express them to their utmost without many constraints.
00:00 – 00:31 Introduction
00:31 – 03:30 Relationship with math and competitions
03:30 – 4:30 Favorite books and being read to (cut)
04:30 – 05:58 Stanford and getting away from Boston
05:58 – 10:15 Math majors and internships
10:15 – 14:16 Jane Street and joining Alameda
14:16 – 17:46 Adapting from equities to crypto
17:46 – 20:20 The process of creating trading strategies (cut 20:22)
20:20 – 22:50 Lessons learned at Alameda
22:50 – 27:15 Effective Altruism
27:15 – 27:50 Satisfaction with a career path
27:50 – 29:35 Writing LARPs