In a red-brick building in the suburbs of the English city of Cambridge, a group of young computer scientists chat and joke about the latest tweaks to their codes.

But rather than a new iPhone app, they are attempting to create the next "bond king" out of algorithms and data.

Dressed casually in jeans and T-shirts, Cantab Capital's brainiacs — with backgrounds in fields such as astrophysics and molecular biology — are writing programmes that surf the undulations of the bond market. The aim: to copy the best features of human traders but without any of their foibles or frailties.