Heuristics for Portfolio Selection

16 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2015

See all articles by Manfred Gilli

Manfred Gilli

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

Enrico Schumann


Date Written: November 25, 2013


Portfolio selection is about combining assets such that investors' financial goals and needs are best satisfied. When operators and academics translate this actual problem into optimisation models, they face two restrictions: the models need to be empirically meaningful, and the models need to be soluble. This chapter will focus on the second restriction. Many optimisation models are difficult to solve because they have multiple local optima or are 'badly-behaved' in other ways. But on modern computers such models can still be handled, through so-called heuristics. To motivate the use of heuristic techniques in finance, we present examples from portfolio selection in which standard optimisation methods fail. We then outline the principles by which heuristics work. To make that discussion more concrete, we describe a simple but effective optimisation technique called Threshold Accepting and how it can be used for constructing portfolios. We also summarise the results of an empirical study on hedge-fund replication.

Keywords: portfolio optimisation, heuristics, financial modelling, model risk, model errors

Suggested Citation

Gilli, Manfred and Schumann, Enrico, Heuristics for Portfolio Selection (November 25, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2551745 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2551745

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
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CH-1211 Geneva 4

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