Taha Ashtiani bio photo

Taha Ashtiani

Searching for EV in the tails.

About me

Hi there 👋 My name is Taha. I live in Toronto, currently working on data/ml at Flinks. I build data products. Sometimes people really like them. I also like building quantitative models for systems with uncertainty in them (read financial markets). Lately I’ve been spending my time outside of work on quantitative trading research, reading research and implementing research tooling. When I listen to music it tends to be skewed towards 90’s rap. I consider myself a buddhist. I also like playing poker with friends.


Here are some variables I sometimes think about, working on projects. They’re not principles, but just loosely held opinions/stances (hopefully):

  • It’s important to do things fast
    • slow is fake
    • doing things faster leaves no time for things that don’t really matter
    • people burnout when they don’t feel the momentum
  • Energy matters
    • does the thing you’re working on draw energy or add energy
    • make changes if things don’t feel right (sometimes this is hard, so stay patient as long as it’s not learned helplessness / lack of agency)
    • remember that it is possible to be in flow for long streches of time everyday
    • happiness and productivity do correlate more often than not
  • What not to build
    • judgment matters a lot when you have leverage
    • code costs you. rarely ever it is well justified to write garbage. be mindful of this.
    • get into the habit of picking up slack all the time. it helps with all kinds of internal resistance
    • don’t build something people don’t need. let’s get real or let’s not play
  • Smaller teams are better
    • less meetings, more opinionated direction and momentum
    • less resistance towards downside of trying things out. faster decision making
    • faster feedback loops
  • Mistakes are not bad
    • as long as you avoid risk of ruin. keep enough chips left to stay in the game and bet again
    • optimize for expected value of sample information
    • often experimentation works better than thinking about things for too long
    • your goal is gaining in EV. learn to work with risk of downside, when there’s appealing upside
    • when you catch one of these mistakes be okay with climbing down and correcting for it