Continuum Analytics is providing access to Thomson Reuters’ QADirect data offering via Wakari, its browser-based Python data analytics platform. Python is an open source computer language that was first released in 1991, and which has grown in popularity in part because of its emphasis on code readability and compactness. A number of financial markets participants are known to be using or evaluating it.
QADirect comprises data spread across a number of databases, including Worldscope, Datastream and I/B/E/S, and is focused on the needs of quantitative research. It provides access to normalised data from different sources via a single identifer. It is typically deployed on a customer site with daily updates, and is hosted in a relational database, such as from Microsoft or Oracle. Access is via SQL or an analytics package, including SAS, S-Plus, Matlab or R, or via Thomson Reuters own QA Studio analytics interface.
Austin, Texas-based Continuum specialises in Python-related technology, for data management and analytics. Founded in 2011, Continuum is privately backed and earlier this year received $3 million if funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop visualisation techniques for large, multi-dimensional datasets. It released Wakari into beta in December 2012, providing an easy mechanism for developers to create data analytics using Python. Wakari includes IOPro, a library developed specifically to optimise access to large datasets, such as QADirect.
Says Continuum president Peter Wang, Python provides a simpler data access method than traditional SQL, reckoning that Python can do in one line of code what SQL takes five or six to acheive. It is also an easier programming language to read, compared to the likes of C, C++ and Java, he contends.
Wakari can either be installed within an enterprise or accessed as a managed service, in which case it relies on cloud EC2 (compute) and S3 (storage) infrastructure from Amazon Web Services. It also can leverage GPU-accelerated compute nodes. One of the strengths of Wakari, says Wang, is the ease of sharing analytics results, which can be acheived by sharing a single URL.
Python has clearly caught the interest of financial markets developers. More than 300 attended a recent New York Python in Finance conference, hosted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which featured speakers from Continuum, and addressed topics including visualisation, scalability, GPU support, and integration with the likes of R and Microsoft Excel.