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Probability and Finance: Its Only a Game!
Glenn Shafer and Vladimir Vovk
Abstracts and keywords for the e-book edition
TIME \@ "MMMM d, yyyy" December 18, 2001
Chapter 1. Introduction: Probability and Finance as a Game
This chapter sketches the game-theoretic framework that is expounded and used in the rest of the book. We propose it as a mathematical foundation for probability. But it also has philosophical content; all the classical interpretations of probability fit into it.
The framework begins with a two-person sequential game of perfect information. On each round, Player II states odds at which Player I may bet on what Player II will do next. In statistical modeling, Player I is a statistician and Player II is the world. In finance, Player I is an investor and Player II is a market. The framework is based on two principles: the principle of pricing by dynamic hedging (Player I can combine his bets over time), and the hypothesis of the impossibility of a gambling system, also called Cournot's principle or the efficient market hypothesis (no strategy for Player I can avoid all risk of bankruptcy and have a reasonable chance of making him rich).
KEYWORDS: game-theoretic probability, upper price, lower price, subjective probability, objective probability, stochasticism, fundamental interpretative hypothesis, dynamic hedging.
PART I: PROBABILITY WITHOUT MEASURE
Game theory can handle classical topics in probability, including the weak and strong limit theorems. No measure theory is needed.
Chapter 2. The Game-Theoretic Framework in Historical Context
This chapter sketches the historical development of the mathematics and philosophy of probability, starting from the seventeenth-century work of Pascal and Fermat. It covers the work of De Moivre, Bernoulli, and Laplace, and the rise of measure theory at the beginning of the twentieth century. Special attention is paid to Kolmogorovs axioms and their philosophical interpretation, and to the path from von Misess collectives to Jean Villes martingales. The hypothesis of the impossibility of a gambling system is also traced historically.
KEYWORDS: the problem of points, equal possibility, frequency, measure theory, Kolmogorovs axioms, collective, gambling system, complexity, martingale, prequential principle, neosubjectivism.
Chapter 3. The Bounded Strong Law of Large Numbers
This chapter states and proves the strong law of large numbers in its simplest forms. We begin with the very simplest case, where a coin is tossed repeatedly. Player I (Skeptic) is allowed to bet each time on heads or tails, as he chooses and in the amount he chooses. Then Player II (Reality), who sees how Skeptic has bet, decides on the outcome. The strong law says that Skeptic has a strategy for betting, beginning with a finite stake, that does not risk bankruptcy and makes him infinitely rich unless Reality makes the proportion of heads converge to one-half. The result generalizes easily to the case where Reality chooses a real number in a bounded interval; in this case, a third player (Forecaster) sets a price at which Skeptic can buy positive or negative amounts of Realitys move. The proofs explicitly exhibit Skeptics strategy.
KEYWORDS: strong law of large numbers, fair-coin game, bounded forecasting, martingale, diabolical reality.
Chapter 4. Kolmogorov's Strong Law of Large Numbers
This chapter proves a game-theoretic version of Kolmogorovs strong law, which applies to an unbounded sequence of predictions. In this case, Forecaster sets not only a price for Realitys forthcoming move, but also a game-theoretic variance: a price for the squared deviation of this move from its price. We show that Skeptic has a strategy that will make him infinitely rich without risking bankruptcy unless Reality satisfies the condition that holds with probability one in the measure-theoretic version of Kolmogorovs strong law: the average difference between Realitys move and its price converges to zero if the sum over n of the nth variance divided by n2 is finite. Using Martins theorem, which asserts the determinateness of Borel games, we can also conclude that Reality can avoid the convergence to zero without making Skeptic infinitely rich whenever Forecaster makes the weighted sum of variances diverge.
KEYWORDS: unbounded strong law, martingale, supermartingale, upper forecasting, probability game, Martins theorem, Borel game.
Chapter 5. The Law of the Iterated Logarithm
The law of the iterated logarithm, first proven for coin tossing by Aleksandr Khinchin in work published in 1924, concerns the rate and oscillation of the convergence that the strong law of large numbers asserts will take place. It sets an asymptotic bound on the deviation from the limit, and it asserts that the oscillation will eventually stay with that bound (validity) but no tighter bound (sharpness). The game-theoretic version of this theorem is analogous to the game-theoretic version of the strong law: Skeptic has a strategy that will make him infinitely rich without risking bankruptcy unless the oscillation satisfies the stated conditions. In the game-theoretic framework, however, it is natural to distinguish between the conditions under which the bound is valid and the stronger conditions under which it is sharp.
KEYWORDS: iterated logarithm, validity, sharpness, unbounded forecasting, predictably unbounded forecasting, large deviations.
Chapter 6. The Weak Laws
The weak law of large numbers and the central limit theorem are concerned with a game that has only a finite number of rounds. The game-theoretic framework formulates them as theorems about the price at which Skeptic can reproduce certain variablesthe lowest initial capital with which he can be sure to equal or exceed the variables value at the end of the game. This chapter explains this for the simplest cases, the weak law of large numbers for coin tossing (Bernoullis theorem) and the central limit theorem for coin tossing (De Moivres theorem). In the case of Bernoullis theorem, we are concerned with the price of a variable that is equal to one in the event that the final proportion of heads is sufficiently close to one-half and zero otherwise; this is the game-theoretic probability of the event. In the case of De Moivres theorem, we use Lindebergs method of proof to obtain the price for a payoff that depends on the final deviation of the proportion of heads from one-half; this leads to the heat equation and its solution, an integral with respect to the normal distribution. We conclude by using parabolic potential theory to generalize De Moivre's theorem to the case where Skeptic is allowed to bet on the errors being small but not on their being large; this corresponds to heat propagation with heat sources.
KEYWORDS: game-theoretic price, game-theoretic probability, upper price, lower price, upper probability, lower probability, weak law of large numbers, central limit theorem, martingale, parabolic potential theory, heat diffusion, normal distribution.
Chapter 7. Lindeberg's Theorem
In the early 1920s, Lindeberg gave the most general conditions under which the central limit theorem holds. This chapter expresses these conditions in game-theoretic terms and derives Lindebergs theorem, using the same type of argument as the preceding chapter used for De Moivres theorem. We also give a number of examples of the theorem, including an application to weather forecasting.
KEYWORDS: Lindeberg protocol, Lindebergs condition, central limit theorem, coherence, game-theoretic price, game-theoretic variance, martingale gains, probability forecasting.
Chapter 8. The Generality of Probability Games
This chapter formulates the game-theoretic framework more abstractly and demonstrates its power more generally. We show that the strongest forms of the classical measure-theoretic limit theorems are special cases of the corresponding game-theoretic ones. We give general definitions of game-theoretic price and probability. We show how the framework accommodates quantum mechanics and statistical models that do not specify full probability measures. Finally, we briefly recount the life and relevant work of Jean Ville.
KEYWORDS: measure-theoretic limit theorems, gambling protocol, probability protocol, quantum mechanics, Coxs regression model, Villes theorem.
PART II: FINANCE WITHOUT PROBABILITY
The game-theoretic framework can dispense with the stochastic assumptions currently used in finance theory. It can use the market, instead of a stochastic model, to price volatility. It can test for market efficiency with no stochastic assumptions.
Chapter 9. Game-Theoretic Probability in Finance
This chapter introduces the game-theoretic approach to finance that is developed in the remaining chapters of the book. We begin by reviewing the standard probabilistic treatment of stock-market prices, in which the price of a stock is assumed to follow a geometric Brownian motion. We also review the idea, championed by Mandelbrot, of measuring the wildness of prices using concepts related to fractal dimension. Then, at a heuristic level, we review the derivation of the classical Black-Scholes formula and explain our game-theoretic alternative. Instead of relying on the assumption of geometric Brownian motion, this alternative asks the market to price a derivative that pays a measure of market volatility as a dividend. Other derivatives can then be priced using the Black-Scholes formula with the market price of the dividend-paying derivative substituted for the theoretical variance of the underlying security. The chapter concludes with an introduction to our approach to the efficient-market hypothesis.
KEYWORDS: geometric Brownian motion, Wiener process, variation spectrum, Hіlder exponent, fractal dimension, Black-Scholes equation, Black-Scholes formula, dividend-paying derivative, informational efficiency, stochastic volatility, stochastic differential equations, Itєs lemma, risk-neutral valuation, Girsanovs theorem.
Chapter 10. Games for Pricing Options in Discrete Time
Although the standard probabilistic theory for pricing and hedging options is formulated in continuous time, real hedging must be conducted in discrete time. In this chapter, we develop the game-theoretic treatment in discrete time, with a precise treatment of the errors that arise from the hedging. We begin, for simplicity, by describing a discrete-time version of the model of option pricing that Bachelier invented in 1900. This model, which uses ordinary Brownian motion instead of geometric Brownian motion, leads to a variant of the game-theoretic central limit theorem in which the remaining variance for a sequence of trials is priced by the market on every round. We develop precise error bounds on this central limit theorem. The analogous procedure for geometric Brownian motion leads to precise error bounds for game-theoretic Black-Scholes hedging. The chapter concludes with some empirical studies of the parameters that affect the hedging error.
KEYWORDS: option pricing, discrete hedging, Bacheliers central limit theorem, Black-Scholes pricing, stochastic hedging, relative variation.
Chapter 11. Games for Pricing Options in Continuous Time
Using nonstandard analysis, we pass from the practical but messy discrete theory of the preceding chapter to an idealized continuous limit, in which exact hedging is achieved. We derive the limiting theory for both the Bachelier and Black-Scholes cases. We also show that the (dt)1/2 effect, a crucial part of the standard theorys assumption that stock prices follow a Brownian motion, emerges in the limit from the game-theoretic approach. In appendices, we review nonstandard analysis and connections with the stochastic theory.
KEYWORDS: nonstandard analysis, Bachlier pricing, Black-Scholes pricing, diffusion model
Chapter 12. The Generality of Game-Theoretic Pricing
In this chapter, we show that the game-theoretic approach can handle various practical and theoretical complications that are discussed in the existing literature on the stochastic approach. For simplicity, we conduct the discussion in the continuous setting. We show how to take interest rates into account and how to handle jumps. We also discuss alternatives to our dividend-paying derivative.
KEYWORDS: interest rate, risk-free bond, jump process, Poisson distribution, weather derivative, Poisson protocol, stable distribution, infinitely divisible distribution, Lщvy process
Chapter 13. Games for American Options
The elementary theory of option pricing, considered in last four chapters is concerned with European options, which have a fixed date of maturity. A somewhat more complicated theory is needed for the more common American options, which can be exercised by the holder whenever he pleases. In general, a higher initial capital may be required to hedge an American option, since the greater freedom of action of the holder must be replicated. This chapter develops the game-theoretic approach to American options quite generally and shows how the upper price for such options can be found using the same techniques from parabolic potential theory that we encountered in our study of the one-sided central limit theorem in Chapter 6.
KEYWORDS: weak price, strong price, market protocol, passive instrument, exotic option, super-replication, parabolic potential theory.
Chapter 14. Games for Diffusion Processes
The idea that a process obeys a particular stochastic differential equation can be expressed game-theoretically; we simply interpret the stochastic differential equation as a strategy for the third player in the game, Forecaster. This leads to a game-theoretic version of Itєs lemma and to an alternative game-theoretic derivation of the Black-Scholes formula. This way of looking at diffusion processes has the advantage that it allows us to omit completely the drift term in applications where it is irrelevant; we simply assume that Forecaster prices only the square of Realitys move, not the move itself.
KEYWORDS: stochastic differential equation, drift, volatility, quadratic variation, Itєs lemma, diffusion protocol.
Chapter 15. The Game-Theoretic Efficient-Market Hypothesis:
Much of the theory of Part I of the book can be applied to financial markets. In this case, Cournots principle is replaced by the efficient-market hypothesis, which says that a speculator cannot beat the market by a large factor without risking bankruptcy. In this chapter, we exploit this idea to derive finance-theoretic strong and weak laws. We also discuss relations between risk and return that follow from this form of the efficient-market hypothesis.
KEYWORDS: securities market, numщraire, finance-theoretic strong law, arbitrage, horse races, iterated logarithm, empirical volatility, risk and return, value at risk.
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