Neal Parikh

Neal Parikh

Applied Science/Computer Science '07

Neal Parikh is an Applied Science/Computer Science graduate of 2007. Neal is in the Quantitative Investment Strategies (QIS) group at Goldman Sachs Asset Management in New York. QIS manages a wide range of investment products (from equity mutual funds to a variety of hedge funds) using quantitative methods, primarily from the fields of econometrics, statistics, and optimization theory. He's also applying for a Ph.D. in computer science (focusing on artificial intelligence and machine learning).

Q&A with Neal:

What do you do in your current job?
In my time in QIS, I have worked on many different projects. One main focus is the design and implementation of portfolio optimization methods, including the development of the portfolio optimization systems that are used to optimally rebalance and trade equity accounts across the business daily. I have also done research on applying methods from statistical machine learning and natural language processing to investment strategies. Finally, I have worked on several more technological projects relating to the use of modern software engineering practices across the business, and have helped evaluate the potential use of various advanced technologies from external vendors.

What kind of skills do you use?
I use many of the skills I developed before coming to Goldman Sachs, such as technical skills (math, programming, and the like), writing skills, oral presentation skills, and so on. Part of the reason the job is satisfying is that it doesn't involve doing exclusively one thing -- sometimes things involve programming, but not always. Writing and speaking well are underrated skills in technical jobs, as it is very important to be able to express and discuss complicated ideas in a clear way.

Why did you major in CS?
I had a long-standing interest in technology from a young age, but I finally decided to major in CS because it was a very broad field. I have always had both practical and theoretical interests, and computer science is an area where there is a lot of rich and satisfying theory, an extremely wide range of applications and interactions with other fields, and maybe most importantly, a healthy interaction between these two sides. Also, it is always fun to build stuff and see it work.

What makes CS at Penn different from other universities?
Penn is a very broad university with many different strengths. The CIS department is naturally outward-looking and has a very rich interaction with the wider university community. Another thing that makes computer science at Penn unique is the presence of Wharton, which has not a small amount of influence on students' approach to studying computer science.

How have you changed since graduating from Penn?
I have changed in many ways, many of them coming from the experience of working in an unfamiliar but very active environment at my job. I have gotten exposure to lots of different sorts of problems, and worked closely with people from different backgrounds, and such experiences are always very edifying. I think I learned and saw a lot and am glad I chose not to go to graduate school right away.

What do you think Penn CIS has given you that you can use in your life today? Is there a class or professor in CIS that has made a particularly strong impact on you?
Penn CIS has given me a lot of technical skills as well as a lot of confidence in using them. I mentioned a variety of different things that I work on above; a major reason that I can work on so many different projects is my general background in computer science, which is consistently useful in many different contexts. In some cases, it's useful in a very low-level way, because it's necessary to actually get something to work or do some analysis. In other cases, it's useful in a higher-level sense because it helps design, analyze, and understand the kinds of complex systems that are pervasive in industry. Several professors in the department made a very strong impact on me: Mitch Marcus, Fernando Pereira, Max Mintz, and Benjamin Pierce, to name just a few.

 Return to CIS Alumni