When Physics Met Finance: A Discussion of the Practical Use of Advanced Mathematics

A Discussion with James Weatherall

James Weatherall will be joined by USC Professors Erik Friedlander, Charles McKenna and Jacob Soll to talk about Professor Weatherall's recent book, The Physics of Wall Street. Peter Mancall will moderate. A reception will follow in the Mudd Hall courtyard.

"After the economic meltdown of 2008, Warren Buffett famously warned, 'beware of geeks bearing formulas.' But as James Weatherall demonstrates, not all geeks are created equal. While many of the mathematicians and software engineers on Wall Street failed when their abstractions turned ugly in practice, a special breed of physicists has a much deeper history of revolutionizing finance. Taking us from fin-de-siècle Paris to Rat Pack-era Las Vegas, from wartime government labs to Yippie communes on the Pacific coast, Weatherall shows how physicists successfully brought their science to bear on some of the thorniest problems in economics, from options pricing to bubbles." (from the publisher's book description)

James Weatherall will discuss the history and arguments presented in his book, The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable.

James Weatherall is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy specializing in the Philosophy of Physics at the University of California at Irvine. He will joined by faculty commentators from USC as follows:


Eric Friedlander is Dean's Professor of Mathematics at USC. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Immediate Past President of the American Mathematical Society.

Charles McKenna is Professor of Chemistry at USC and Dornsife Vice Dean for Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Jacob Soll is Professor of History and Accounting at USC, a 2012 MacArthur Fellow, and the author of The Information Master.


Peter Mancall is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History and Anthropology at USC. He is Vice Dean for the Humanities of the USC Dornsife College.

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