Reading List: Learning to See Data

By Zach Hurwitz hurwitz, Reading_List

By Zach Hurwitz

Reference Article:

New York Times’ “Learning to See Data”


Nobody dreams of having access to MORE data; we dream of having better command over the information already at our disposal.  This stems partially from our inability to — at a human level, without the use of algorithms — identify meaningful trends in a dataset.  Can you quickly train someone to see patterns in analytics?

“It is possible to fast-forward a person’s gut instincts… The idea is to train specific visual skills, usually with computer-game-like modules that require split-second decisions.”

Some people need an experiential learning approach to swiftly familiarize themselves with a new paradigm.  This is why analogies rock: they empower the (unfamiliar) listener with a framework for understanding something to which they’d never otherwise have hands-on access.

“[The human brain is] self-correcting — it tunes itself . . . [working] to find the most meaningful sights or sounds and filter out the rest.”

Traders don’t have time to forensically inspect every chart or news story.  Chartists have long used things like Ichimoku Kinko Hyo — a Japanese method for understanding (as its namesake implies, when translated) “equilibrium, at-a-glance charting” — of a security.  Modern technical traders need to adopt an idiosyncratic, visceral interpretation of price action; this is the ‘gut’ feeling derived from years of expertise that older traders stereotypically swear by (but can’t often describe in great detail).

“After one hour of training, novices could read the panel as accurately and quickly as pilots with an average of 1,000 flying hours, he found. They’d built the same reading skill, at least on the ground, in a fraction of the time.”

Read the New York Times’ “Learning to See Data”

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About the Author

Zach Hurwitz

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Zachary is an independent equities trader, trading coach, systems developer, consultant to emerging hedge funds and proprietary trading firms, Volume-Weighted Average Price (VWAP) specialist, and in his spare time, a totally average guitarist. Zachary graduated with an Economics degree from Tufts University in 2008 and resides in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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