Quantitative Trading vs. Algorithmic Trading in Cryptocurrency: A Comprehensive Guide

Quantitative Trading vs. Algorithmic Trading in Cryptocurrency: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Quantitative Trading?

Quantitative trading is a type of financial strategy that relies on mathematical computations and number-crunching to identify trading opportunities. It involves the use of complex mathematical models to make decisions about buying, selling, and holding assets. The primary inputs to these models are price and volume, as the quantity traded is generally large in size.

In the ever-evolving world of cryptocurrency, two trading strategies have emerged as key players: Quantitative Trading and Algorithmic Trading. While they share similarities, these two approaches also have distinct differences that can significantly impact trading outcomes. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of both strategies, their key differences, and how they can be combined for optimal trading results.


In quantitative trading, ‘Alpha’ refers to the excess return of an investment relative to the return of a benchmark index. It is a measure of performance, indicating how much more (or less) an investment has earned compared to a market index.

Here are a few examples of alpha in quantitative trading with crypto:

Statistical Arbitrage

A strategy that takes advantage of temporary price discrepancies between related cryptocurrencies or different trading pairs to generate profits. By identifying and exploiting these inefficiencies, the strategy aims to generate alpha.


A strategy that involves placing buy and sell orders on both sides of the order book to provide liquidity to the market. By capturing the bid-ask spread, the strategy aims to generate positive returns and earn alpha.

Trend Following

A strategy that identifies and trades on the prevailing trends in the cryptocurrency market. It aims to capture profits by riding the upward or downward price movements. Successful trend following strategies can generate alpha by effectively capturing the momentum in the market.

Mean Reversion

A strategy that takes advantage of price deviations from their long-term average. It assumes that prices will revert to their mean over time, and the strategy attempts to profit from these reversions. Skilled implementation of mean reversion strategies can generate alpha.


Primitives are the basic building blocks used in the quantitative models. They include factors like price, volume, volatility, and other market indicators.

Here are a few examples of primitives in quantitative trading with crypto:

  1. Moving Averages: Moving averages are widely used primitives that calculate the average price of an asset over a specific time period. They are often used to identify trends, support, and resistance levels, and generate trading signals.
  2. Relative Strength Index (RSI): RSI is a momentum oscillator that measures the speed and change of price movements. It helps traders assess whether an asset is overbought or oversold, indicating potential reversal points and trading opportunities.
  3. Bollinger Bands: Bollinger Bands are volatility indicators consisting of a moving average and upper and lower bands. They help traders identify periods of high or low volatility, assess price volatility relative to historical levels, and spot potential breakouts or reversals.
  4. MACD (Moving Average Convergence Divergence): MACD is a trend-following momentum indicator that shows the relationship between two moving averages. It helps identify potential trend changes, bullish or bearish signals, and divergence patterns.
  5. Volume Analysis: Volume is a key primitive used to assess the strength and validity of price movements. By analyzing trading volume, traders can identify periods of accumulation or distribution, confirm trend reversals, and gauge market participation.
  6. Support and Resistance Levels: Support and resistance levels are key primitives that identify price levels where buying or selling pressure is expected to be strong. They help traders determine entry and exit points, set stop-loss and take-profit levels, and assess potential price targets.

Risk Models

In quantitative trading with crypto, a risk model is a framework used to assess and manage the potential risks associated with trading strategies. It helps traders quantify and analyze various risk factors to make informed decisions about position sizing, risk tolerance, and portfolio management. Here’s an example of a risk model in quantitative trading with crypto:

  1. Volatility Risk: Volatility risk measures the potential price fluctuations of an asset. Traders use statistical models or historical data to estimate the volatility of cryptocurrencies and assess the potential impact on their positions. They may set risk limits based on acceptable levels of volatility and adjust position sizes accordingly.
  2. Market Risk: Market risk refers to the possibility of adverse market movements affecting the overall performance of a trading strategy. Traders assess market risk by considering factors such as macroeconomic conditions, regulatory changes, and geopolitical events that can impact cryptocurrency markets. They may incorporate market risk indicators and scenario analysis to manage exposure to market-wide risks.
  3. Liquidity Risk: Liquidity risk involves the potential difficulty of entering or exiting positions without significantly impacting the market price. Traders evaluate liquidity risk by analyzing trading volumes, order book depth, and bid-ask spreads of cryptocurrencies. They may implement risk controls, such as limiting the size of trades relative to average trading volumes, to mitigate the impact of liquidity risk.
  4. Counterparty Risk: Counterparty risk refers to the risk of default or non-performance by counterparties involved in trading transactions. In cryptocurrency trading, counterparty risk can arise from exchange failures, hacks, or operational issues. Traders may mitigate counterparty risk by diversifying exchanges, using reputable platforms with robust security measures, and implementing appropriate risk management protocols.
  5. Systemic Risk: Systemic risk encompasses risks that affect the entire cryptocurrency market or multiple assets simultaneously. This can include factors such as market manipulation, network congestion, or blockchain vulnerabilities. Traders consider systemic risks when designing their strategies and may incorporate risk mitigation techniques, such as portfolio diversification, hedging, or dynamic position adjustments.

Risk models are a crucial part of quantitative trading. They help in assessing the potential risk involved in a trading strategy and aid in making informed decisions.

Steps Involved in Quantitative Trading

The process of quantitative trading involves several steps, each crucial to the overall strategy:

1. Identifying a Strategy

The first step involves identifying a suitable trading strategy based on historical data and market trends.

2. Developing a Model

Once a strategy is identified, a mathematical model is developed to predict future trends. This model takes into account various factors such as price, volume, and other market indicators.

3. Backtesting

The model is then backtested using historical data to check its effectiveness. This helps in understanding how the model would have performed in the past.

4. Implementation & Execution

If the backtesting results are satisfactory, the model is implemented in real-time trading. Trades are executed based on the signals generated by the model. Using trading bots like the ones available on TradeServer Cloud make this step a snap.

5. Risk Management

Continuous monitoring is done to manage the risk associated with the trades.

What is Algorithmic Trading?

Algorithmic trading, also known as algo trading, involves the use of pre-programmed computer software to execute trades at high speeds. These algorithms are designed to make trades based on certain patterns or trends in the market.

Steps Involved in Algorithmic Trading Work

1. Creating a Strategy

The first step in algorithmic trading is to create a strategy based on market trends and historical data.

2. Setting up the Algorithm

The strategy is then converted into an algorithm. This algorithm is designed to execute trades based on the strategy.

3. Creating or Purchasing Trading Software

The algorithm is then incorporated into a trading software. This software can either be created in-house or purchased from a vendor. For example, HaasScript by HaasOnline is a popular choice among crypto traders.

4. Executing Trades

The trading software executes trades based on the algorithm. It can operate 24/7, making trades at high speeds and with precision.

Algo Trading vs. Quantitative Trading: Key Differences

While both algo trading and quantitative trading involve the use of mathematical models and automated systems, there are key differences between the two:


Algorithmic trading focuses on the execution of trades using pre-programmed algorithms, while quantitative trading focuses on the strategy and the mathematical model used to predict market trends.


Algorithmic trading is known for its high-speed trade execution, while quantitative trading may not require the same speed but needs more depth in data analysis and model development.


Quantitative trading models are generally more complex as they involve the use of multiple datasets and imply statistics. On the other hand, algorithmic trading focuses more on trend and price history.


People working in algorithmic trading are known as ‘quants’, short for quantitative analysts, or financial quantitative analysts. They use their knowledge, skills, and experience to help financial organizations generate profits while reducing risk.

Can You Combine Both Types of Trading?

Yes, it is possible to combine both types of trading. In fact, many trading firms use a combination of both to optimize their trading strategies. Algorithmic trading can be used to execute the trades at high speeds, while quantitative trading can be used to develop sophisticated models and strategies based on deep data analysis.


In conclusion, both quantitative trading and algorithmic trading have their unique advantages and can be powerful tools in the world of cryptocurrency trading. While they have distinct differences, combining the two can potentially lead to optimized trading strategies. As with any trading strategy, it’s important to understand the risks involved and to conduct thorough research before diving in.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between algorithmic and quantitative trading?

Algorithmic trading focuses on trend and price history when developing a trading strategy. On the other hand, the quantitative trading model relies solely on mathematics and technical analysis. Quantitative models are more complex — they employ multiple datasets at a time and imply statistics

What does a quant do in algorithmic trading?

People working in algorithmic trading are known as ‘quants’, short for quantitative analysts, or financial quantitative analysts. A person who works as a quant uses knowledge, skills, and experience to help financial organizations generate profits while reducing risk

Can algorithmic trading strategies affect market stability?

As algorithmic trading strategies, including high frequency trading (HFT) strategies, have grown more widespread in U.S. securities markets, the potential for these strategies to adversely impact market and firm stability has likewise grown

What kind of people are best suited to work in algorithmic trading?

The kind of people that are best suited for work that involves algorithmic trading are people who are comfortable working with numbers, data, computer algorithms, and financial concepts. People working in algorithmic trading are known as ‘quants’, short for quantitative analysts, or financial quantitative analysts


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