Cover image for The predictors
The predictors
Bass, Thomas A.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt and Co., 1999.
Physical Description:
viii, 309 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HG4621 .B37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



How a band of maverick physicists used chaos theory to trade their way to fortune on Wall Street.

How could a couple of rumpled physicists in sandals and Eat the Rich T-shirts, piling computers into an adobe house in Santa Fe, hope to take on the Masters of the Universe from Goldman Sachs? Doyne Farmer and Norman Packard may never have read The Wall Street Journal, but they happen to be among the founders of the new sciences of chaos and complexity. Who better to try to find order in the apparently unreasoned chaos of the global financial markets? Thomas Bass first made readers aware of Farmer and Packard in The Eudaemonic Pie, in which he chronicled their assault on the casinos of Las Vegas. Here, Bass takes us inside their start-up company, at first a motley collection of long-haired Ph.D.s, nervously testing their computer forecasting models. As confidence builds, Farmer and Packard make their way to the centers of financial power, where they find investors and ultimately go live with real money. Once they are off and running, The Predictors becomes a dizzying, often hilarious tale of genius and greed, power brokers and rebels, as well as a brisk education in chaos, complexity, and the world financial markets.

Author Notes

Thomas A. Bass is the author of "The Eudaemonic Pie" & several other books. He writes for "Wired," "The New Yorker," & many other magazines. He lives in Clinton, New York.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Exciting and remarkable applications for the emerging chaos and complexity theory are being investigated in fields as diverse as population studies, climatology, traffic, and financial markets, fields in which scientists hope to understand and predict events on the basis of past patterns of occurrence. In an amusing example, Doyne Farmer and Norman Packard, who were physics graduate students at the time, used computers hidden in their shoes to gather data at Las Vegas roulette tables so that they could develop a mathematical model to beat the house. Bass described their effort in an entertaining book, The Eudaemonic Pie (1985). Now Farmer and Packard have moved on to bigger challenges. They started a company, Prediction, to analyze and invest in foreign exchange, interest rate, and stock and commodity markets. Bass revisits his former subjects and tells their story here. Bass, the author of Reinventing the Future: Conversations with the World's Leading Scientists (1994), excels at making science alive and complicated ideas accessible. An excerpt appeared in the New Yorker last spring. --David Rouse

Library Journal Review

In 1991, physicists Doyne Farmer, Norman Packard, and Jim McGill established the Prediction Company in Santa Fe, NM, intending to use their knowledge of chaos theory (the study of complex systems) to develop predictive models and automated black-box systems for beating financial markets worldwide. That they succeeded is only part of the story, the more interesting part of this tale being its human side. In Wired contributor Bass's account, we see the primary characters deal with a broad array of charlatans and geniuses, learn from their successes and failures, grow to appreciate the problems inherent in traditional economic theory, and become adept businessmen and managers. Useful as a primer in chaos theory as well as the various challenges that face start-up firms and the complexity of financial markets, this marvelous story should interest readers in both public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/99.]√ĄNorman B. Hutcherson, Kern Cty. Lib., Bakersfield, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Turbulencep. 3
Black Boxp. 8
Clairvoyant Traderp. 21
Equityp. 34
Zozobrap. 47
The Fifty-Million-Dollar Suitp. 61
A Better Class of Peoplep. 74
The Badlands of Capitalismp. 88
Cloning Mr. Jonesp. 101
The Perfect Girlfriendp. 116
Walk to the Swampp. 128
The Ghost of Oppenheimerp. 142
Marrying for Moneyp. 152
Cities of Goldp. 170
First Datep. 185
No Bananap. 195
Phynancep. 210
Kinderkrankheitenp. 219
The Curse of Dimensionalityp. 231
The Holy Grailp. 244
Market Forcep. 262
Golden Handcuffsp. 271
Rapid Divergence of Nearby Trajectoriesp. 282
Escape Velocityp. 294
Acknowledgmentsp. 308