Baruch Student Wins $25,000 in Trading Olympiad

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Graduate student Bharath Govindarajan and Professor Richard Holowczak in the Wasserman Trading Floor / Subotnick Center at Baruch College.
Graduate student Bharath Govindarajan and Professor Richard Holowczak in the Wasserman Trading Floor / Subotnick Center at Baruch College. Photo: Jerry Speier

New York, NY April 13, 2006. Bharath Govindarajan, a first-year student in Baruch’s Master of Science in Applied Mathematics for Finance program, earned second place in the Interactive Brokers Collegiate Trading Olympiad. The ten-week Olympiad, which ran from January to March 2006, required participants to develop algorithmic computer trading models to buy and sell U.S. stocks, options, futures, currencies, and bonds, starting with a hypothetical investment of $100,000.

Bharath, who lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, came to America in June 2005 from Madras, India, where he already had a degree in mechanical engineering and work experience as a programmer analyst. He had high praise for his Baruch experience so far: “Baruch was my first choice for graduate study,” he said, “due to the applied nature of the program and excellent faculty. The skills and theories I learned in my MS in financial math classes aided the development of my trading strategy. Numerous discussions with Professor Dan Stefanica, director of the MS in Applied Math for Finance program, also helped me greatly. Dan has gone out of his way to help me and make me feel at home in this country. He’s a pillar of this program.”

Interactive Brokers awarded a total of $158,000 in prizes to students and another $150,000 in matching prizes to the students’ colleges. Bharath’s trading algorithms, which were developed and left running 24 hours a day at Baruch’s own Wasserman Trading Floor / Subotnick Center, were successful in increasing his hypothetical holdings to $183,092.10. In addition to winning second place, he personally earned $25,000 in prize money and the Baruch College Fund received a matching $25,000 donation from Interactive Brokers. The College will use the donation for programs in its Department of Applied Math for Finance, which is part of Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences.

Using the same Application Program Interface (API) that professional traders use, students also relied on their own programming skills in Java, C++, C, and Visual Basic to create automated trading algorithms. Associate Professor Richard Holowczak, director of the Wasserman Trading Floor / Subotnick Center at Baruch College, said: "Bharath spent considerable time at the Wasserman Trading Floor developing his algorithms. I am glad the trading floor's resources were able to support his efforts and we are extremely proud of his achievement in this competition."

Competing in the Olympiad were students from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. North American schools included Princeton University, the University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Carnegie Mellon University. Graduate student Patrick Christmas of the University of Texas at Austin was the first-place winner.

Bharath, who used his computer algorithm for trading commodities futures on three different exchanges, was able to avoid the emotional stress of the markets: “Being disciplined helped me. I followed my system right to the end without making any daily tweaks.” So does he have any tips for the rest of us? Revealing no secrets, he joked: “Yes, invest with me.” 

Thomas Fugalli
Communications and Marketing
646-660-6091