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'The Quants': It Pays To Know Your Wall Street Math

In 1962, Ed Thorp became every gambler's favorite mathematician when he published the first mathematically proven method for beating the dealer at blackjack.

Thorp's work revolutionized the game. But he went further: In 1967, Thorp devised a system that uses math and computers to predict the future of the stock market. His hedge funds and his personal portfolio have been profitable ever since.

Thorp and the people who use such systems have come to be known as "quants" — it's a reference to the quantitative-analysis techniques they employ — and their stories are told in Scott Patterson's new book The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It.

Thorp has taught at MIT and UCLA. Patterson writes for the Wall Street Journal. They join Terry Gross for a conversation about Patterson's new book.

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