Financial Mathematics Text

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Was Chess Invented or Discovered?

One common comparison made within philosophy of math circles is a comparison between the game of chess and mathematics. Variants of, in particular, formalism hold that mathematics is a sort of game with well defined rules that mathematicians play. I think the game of chess is actually quite apt for the comparison. Like all metaphors, it has limitations but I think it's still an interesting one.

The closest comparison, in my view, is between chess and geometry. Here's how it works.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yield-Duration Curve

Most people are familiar with the "yield curve" which compares yield with maturity. I personally think a more useful curve looks at yield and duration.

Duration is a metric which gives a rough indicator of how much a change in interest rates will affect the price of a bond. Roughly speaking, if a bond has a duration of 10 years, a 1% change in interest rates (say from 4 to 5%) will result in a roughly 10% change in the price of the bond. So duration gives one information about interest rate risk.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Being Without Numbers

Linguistic anthropologist Daniel Everett has been researching and living with (off and on) an Amazonian tribe called the Pirahã for a few decades now. In Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle, Everett gives a semi-autobiographical account of his interactions with the Pirahã.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Intuition in Philosophy

Intuition has an interesting role in philosophy, particularly analytic philosophy. One of its functions is epistemic. It's used to test various assumptions and conclusions in philosophy for validity or truth. If something fails to stand up to intuition the propositions in question get dismissed.

There's also a good deal of literature in a field known as "experimental philosophy". The research often takes the form of surveys to different groups of individuals (intro to philosophy students, professional philosophers, etc). The purpose of the surveys is to assess what "intuitions" people have. What the research tends to indicate is that intuitions vary greatly between groups depending upon a variety of circumstances (culture, philosophical exposure, etc.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Currency and Price Stability

There are two related claims made by gold standard advocates. These claims are:

1) Under a gold standard, prices are stable.
2) Prices ought to remain stable.

I) We'll start by looking at the first claim. What does it mean to say that prices are stable?