Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Le Cousins Dangereux: Coding vs Modeling

I spent a fair amount of time modeling as a banker, sometimes in long enough stretches to see the next day's Wall Street Journal delivered. By comparison, I spent just a few months programming in graduate school. During that same period however, I also enrolled in a financial modeling class as a refresher. By my count I would guess there are relatively few people who have been on both sides of that fence. In doing so, I formed some thoughts on the similarities and differences of coding vs modeling - the two have more in common than at first glance.

- the sweet sweet triumph of tracking down an error
 (damn you #REF, //error, etc.)
- the negative correlation between time spent debugging and error quality
- the decomposition of a problem into manageable/blocks before compiling
- the importance of details such as:
(keys, color coding, naming cells, using macros vs documenting, definitions, descriptive variable names, building functions)
- late nights and irregular schedules
- a disproportionate amount of time spent alone compared to the genpop
- copious amounts of food/drink (or the $$ to buy it) if you're on the job
- the increased potential of poundage from being sedentary
- a significant amount of time spent bent over a laptop with screen-face
- the blissful satisfaction of getting a model or program built right
- highly competitive and well paid jobs on their respective coasts
- the true significance of planning and thought in how a model is built
- the high level of intensity and focus required to get things done
- the building of a very specialized skill set

- a focus on building in coding versus analyzing with modeling
- the high variability of quality in models depending on external inputs
- the exposure of a model once built to manipulation beyond your control
- more human interaction in modeling as it is usually built across teams
- the customary practice of linear logic in modeling vs modular in coding

Make no mistake, we are definitely talking cousins here. That should not be so much surprising as it is revealing. Just be careful, unlike me, that you do not cross them both at the same time. It is not a pretty sight.

No comments:

Post a Comment