Machine Learning for Asset Managers (Chapter 1)

Cambridge Elements, 2020

45 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2020

See all articles by Marcos Lopez de Prado

Marcos Lopez de Prado

Cornell University - Operations Research & Industrial Engineering; Abu Dhabi Investment Authority; True Positive Technologies

Date Written: March 21, 2020


Successful investment strategies are specific implementations of general theories. An investment strategy that lacks a theoretical justification is likely to be false. Hence, an asset manager should concentrate her efforts on developing a theory, rather than on back-testing potential trading rules. The purpose of this monograph is to introduce Machine Learning (ML) tools that can help asset managers discover economic and financial theories.

ML is not a black-box, and it does not necessarily over-fit. ML tools complement rather than replace the classical statistical methods. Some of ML’s strengths include:

(i) Focus on out-of-sample predictability over variance adjudication;

(ii) usage of computational methods to avoid relying on (potentially unrealistic) assumptions;

(iii) ability to “learn” complex specifications, including non-linear, hierarchical and non-continuous interaction effects in a high-dimensional space; and

(iv) ability to disentangle the variable search from the specification search, robust to multicollinearity and other substitution effects.

Keywords: Machine Learning, Unsupervised Learning, Supervised Learning, Clustering, Classification, Labeling, Portfolio Construction

JEL Classification: G0, G1, G2, G15, G24, E44

Suggested Citation

López de Prado, Marcos and López de Prado, Marcos, Machine Learning for Asset Managers (Chapter 1) (March 21, 2020). Cambridge Elements, 2020, Available at SSRN:

Marcos López de Prado (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Operations Research & Industrial Engineering ( email )

237 Rhodes Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States


Abu Dhabi Investment Authority ( email )

211 Corniche Road
Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi PO Box3600
United Arab Emirates


True Positive Technologies ( email )

United States


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