Hedge Fund Coin Flipping

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It's no surprise that the quants are a strange bunch. Last year, when their strategies cascaded to recorded losses, they blamed the markets for misbehavior. Now it seems a hedge fund looking for someone with quant skills has placed a particularly strange ad on Craigslist.


It asks applicants to do the following:

1)Prepare a cover letter.
2)Flip a coin 50 times. Record the results on your resume as a sequence of heads (H) or tails (T) symbols.
3) Email your cover letter and resume to us.

Some folks have wondered if the fund is simply testing for luckiness. But our man Joe Weisenthal, who has been guest blogging for Paul Kedrosky at Infectious Greed, points out that this could be an application of Benford's Law which tests for honesty. Most people cannot correctly estimate a realistic pattern of coin flips, which means they can't fake the data convincingly.
One of our favorite quants, who asked to remain anonymous because "girls don't like nerds who don't work for Google," brings up another possibility: that it's a test of quant ability based on ability to fake the odds convincingly.
"The ideal quant candidate should be able to apply Benford's Law to fake the coin flip results," he says. "I'll bet in the interview you lose points for actually having flipped the coin rather than working out the problem."
He also poses an alternative theory. "It's also possible that they just want to see if you can figure out why they asked you to do this. Maybe the first question you'll get asked in the interview is why you think they wanted you to flip a coin fifty times," he says.

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