Check out the new USENIX Web site.

Capital Markets Trading Floors, Current Practice

Sam Lipson


Financial trading has been described as technological warfare. Whether or not you believe the metaphor, trading systems certainly involve a tremendous need for highly reliable, interruption free, real-time data. Real-time, in this case, means presented accurately and without delay. Current practice of medium to large trading floors often involves Unix based workstations and significant attention to reliability. There are issues to be addressed during the construction of the physical facility, the planning and installation of the systems, and various rules of the road for support personnel. This paper attempts to address many of these areas. In this paper some of today's common practices and the rationale behind them will be described. It is the goal to take some of the mystery of out the black art of trading floor design and support. The ideas in this paper have been installed on several of the largest trading floors in Boston, MA (USA) covering the market segments of Foreign Exchange (F/X), derivatives, equities, fixed income, and (US) government securities. The only market segment not represented is commodities.

Download the full text of this paper:
ASCII (57,232 bytes)
POSTSCRIPT (204,174 bytes)
PDF (65,173)

To Become a USENIX Member, please see our Membership Information.