hot-topic rightTwo major newspapers take a peek today into the world of technology-driven stock trading— and its connection to a whipsaw drop and rebound in prices earlier this month — by spotlighting a little-known Red Bank firm called Tradeworx.

In “humdrum” offices above the Restoration Hardware store on Broad Street, reporter New York Times Julie Crewell writes in a front-page story, “workers in their 20s and 30s in jeans and T-shirts quietly tend high-speed computers that typically buy and sell 80 million shares a day.”

The article shines a flashlight into the phenomenon known as high-frequency trading, in which stocks are identified, bought or sold by computers in as little as 20 microseconds.

It also reports on calls by elected officials in Washington for more information about firms like Tradeworx and how they work. Critics say computer-driven trading on this scale is a danger to market stability.

Manoj Narang, the 40-year-old M.I.T. math and computer science grad who founded Tradeworx in the late ’90s, defends the strategy in both the Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s a primer on high-frequency trading prepared by Tradeworx: twx-sec-2010