Optimisation in Financial Engineering

Journal of Financial Transformation, Vol. 28, pp. 117-122, 2010

10 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2010 Last revised: 19 Oct 2010

See all articles by Manfred Gilli

Manfred Gilli

University of Geneva - Research Center for Statistics; Swiss Finance Institute

Enrico Schumann


Date Written: February 9, 2010


We discuss the precision with which financial models are handled, in particular optimisation models. We argue that precision is only required to a level that is justified by the overall accuracy of the model, and that this required precision should be specifically analysed, so to better appreciate the usefulness and limitations of a model. In financial optimisation, such analyses are often neglected; operators and researchers rather show an a priori preference for numerically-precise methods. We argue that given the (low) empirical accuracy of many financial models, such exact solutions are not needed; ‘good’ solutions suffice. Our discussion may appear trivial: everyone knows that financial markets are noisy, and that models are not perfect. Yet the question of the appropriate precision of models with regard to their empirical application is rarely discussed explicitly; specifically, it is rarely discussed in university courses on financial economics and financial engineering. Some may argue that the models’ errors are understood implicitly, or that in any case more precision does no harm. Yet there are costs. We seem to have a built-in incapacity to intuitively appreciate randomness and chance; all too easily then, precision is confused with actual accuracy, with potentially painful consequences.

Keywords: Financial Optimisation, Financial Modelling, Heuristics, Model Evaluation

JEL Classification: C60, G11

Suggested Citation

Gilli, Manfred and Schumann, Enrico, Optimisation in Financial Engineering (February 9, 2010). Journal of Financial Transformation, Vol. 28, pp. 117-122, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1547173

Manfred Gilli

University of Geneva - Research Center for Statistics ( email )

+41223798222 (Phone)
+41223798299 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.unige.ch/ses/metri/gilli/

Swiss Finance Institute ( email )

c/o University of Geneva
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1211 Geneva 4

Enrico Schumann (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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