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Former Goldman Coder Case Still Open As Questions Are Still Surfacing From Those Who Do Not Program or Understand Data Mechanics

Posted Jun 14 2013 5:03pm

Sergey Aleynikov was using a Hull three-factor model" to analyze stocks, which if you read the paragraphs below, Goldman bought it from Blair Hall, a former black jack player who modified the code for stocks. When you read the rest of this it kind of goes along with exactly what I said when writing software, there are bits and pieces we copy and paste in, which are “tidbits” and don’t do much alone but save the programmer a ton of time from having to write from scratch.  I did that all the time to add a quick functional algorithm to the overall program.  it saves time. The tidbits of code I used were all open source and developers made some of them up as good will, to help other developers time in not having to write the same code over and over. 

Former Goldman Programmer Still on the Hook for Code Theft, Perhaps Is It Time to Talk About the Model He Was Writing Code For To Finally Figure Out If That Code Had “Real” Value?

There’s a lot of repetitious code in software that is used and if you look at what Microsoft does for dot net programs, that’s a good example right there of code that is used over and over to run software on your computer, so developers don’t have to write those modules into every software program built, it saves time.  So when you see a notice about dot net extensions, that’s what it is. 

Goldman Sachs Programmer Who Went to Jail for Stealing Code Has His Conviction Overturned–You Can’t Get A Jury of Peers Off the Street for Crimes With High Tech Algos

Like I said how does one get a jury of peers and how long is this going to carry on.  Can’t we get some “digital illiterate” experienced programmers to testify here?  If the code was that valuable Goldman, believe me would have not even allowed it to be shown on the screen in the court room…you can almost guarantee that.  So again this just sounds like some frequently used modules and all trading software has free and open source modules in it, so be smart and tell us what “kind” of code was taken, please.  BD


Nearly four years after Mr. Aleynikov's first arrest, two big questions remain: How much is the allegedly purloined computer code really worth? And what does it do?

Few people even know exactly what Mr. Aleynikov took with him when he quit Goldman. At the first trial, a federal judge closed the courtroom to observers whenever portions of the code were discussed or shown in detail. The move was made at the request of Goldman, which said the code was too valuable to show to the public, according to court documents. Goldman declined to provide the code to The Wall Street Journal, and the judge hasn't unsealed the evidence.

Mr. Aleynikov began his programming career as a teenager at a Moscow mining college, working on Bulgarian computers that stored data on audiocassette tapes. He learned to write basic algorithms in a language that was developed by IBM Corp. IBM +0.30% in the 1950s.

At Goldman, Mr. Aleynikov worked on technology built on the remnants of software created by Blair Hull, a math genius and former blackjack player who developed successful principles for when to hold, hit or double down. In 1973, Mr. Hull applied his blackjack approach to stocks, creating an algorithm that could spit out a valuation for a stock option.

In the 1990s, he created the "Hull three-factor model" to analyze stocks. That methodology became the basis for instant, computerized stock trading. Goldman bought Mr. Hull's company in 1999 for $500 million. Federal prosecutors alleged that what Mr. Aleynikov took was worth $500 million on its own.

According to Mr. Hull, the real value isn't in Goldman's computer code. "It's people and machines that make that thing go," he said. To Mr. Aleynikov, the value of taking the code would have been saving time by applying bits and pieces of it, not trying to duplicate Goldman's high-frequency operation, Mr. Hull said.

"He said he downloaded some files and he realized after it wasn't the right thing to do and he shouldn't have done it," said David Manifold, a former colleague and friend who talked to Mr. Aleynikov after his arrest. "He didn't seem to think it was that serious." Mr. Manifold said he doesn't understand why Mr. Aleynikov would have the motive to take the code—or why it even matters. "He could sit down and rewrite the whole thing better," he said.

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