Algorithmic trading, also called algo trading and blackbox trading, encompasses trading systems that are heavily reliant on complex mathematical formulas and high-speed, computer programs to determine trading strategies. These strategies use electronic platforms to enter trading orders with an algorithm which executes pre-programmed trading instructions accounting for a variety of variables such as timing, price, and volume. Algorithmic trading is widely used by investment banks, pension funds, mutual funds, and other buy-side (investor-driven) institutional traders, to divide large trades into several smaller trades to managemarket impact and risk.
Algorithmic trading may be used in any investment strategy or trading strategy, including market making, inter-market spreading, arbitrage, or pure speculation (including trend following). The investment decision and implementation may be augmented at any stage with algorithmic support or may operate completely automatically.