The Power of Tangential Learning

According to Wikipedia, > tangential learning is the process by which some portion of people > will self-educate if a topic is exposed to them in something that they > already enjoy. I was just organizing my bookshelf the other day and is surprised by how fast my collection of statistics books have grown. I studied statistics back in school as a stepping stone to learning stochastic process for wireless communication theories (e.g. CDMA). Detecting radio-frequency and resolving wireless signals to meaningful messages is fundamentally about assessing the state of random processes. I hated statistics back then because I didn't *get it* and did poorly in those courses. It is ironic that years later I would realize how much I have grown to rely and love the little *p*'s and *q*'s in my little hobby of quantitative trading. I still don't like statistics (or theoretical math), per se. I just love *applying* them in my trading and quant programs. The more that I learn about statistics, the more that I realize how powerful they can be and how ignorant I am. For example, in my clinical study days I used either t-test or ANOVA for everything under the sun. Now that I've come to understanding about inferential statistics, I am aware of the assumptions and pitfalls such as the assumption of t-tests of homogeneity of variance between the two samples tested. If this assumption is violated, then the unequal variance t-test should be used. Finer points like these are routinely ignored in practice because many clinical studies are inherently designed in the experiment to meet these criteria. However, that's not the case when I am making creative use of statistics in my trading. I don't have a clinical study committee watching over my back. If I make a false or weaker-than-expected claim and don't know better, then it is my bank account that will suffer the consequences. Learning statistics was initially due to this got-to-know-better necessity. However, the more that I learn about statistics, the more that I appreciate it. If used correctly, statistics can provide a new dimension to the scientific assessment of your trading performance and market data.