Automated Trading System – Internal Order Matching

Most automated trading systems (ATS) are built such that there are little to no interactions between component models. This is limiting. Here I am referring to a trading system as the overarching architecture that houses multiple individual models.

Without interactions, each model is operating within an environment that it is preconceived in. For example, mean reversion can happen in different time/event frequencies. A model that is parameterized to take advantage on certain frequency will not have knowledge of others.

One component within an ATS that is rather complicated to architect is the order management system. The OMS is the component that handles all order requests generated by the prediction models. It must always be aware of outstanding orders (limit/market, etc), partial fills, and proper handling of rejects,etc. Now the complexity is increased when a portfolio of prediction models all generate an order for a given tick. (Which should be processed first?)

The general rule of thumb in dealing with this is to aggregate all orders by asset to reduce transaction costs. If there are a mix of long/shorts, the net will be the final order quantity. When it is filled, simply dis-aggregate them back in to component fills to the respective models (internal matching). The annoying part, in my opinion, is when you introduce multiple order types. For example, Limit and Market orders. How would one architect the OMS to handle both? Hmm.. This goes back to the debate of the degree of coupling between the strategy and the OMS itself….


The code below represents the CRSM algorithm. It is adopted to the SIT framework. I have refactored the code so that its is easier for the user to use and understand.

I would like to once again thank you David Varadi for his tireless effort in guiding me along this past year. My gratitude also goes out to Adam Butler and BPG Associates for their support  all along the way.

Download Code: here



Shiny Market Dashboard

I’ve been asked multiple times regarding code for the dashboard so thought I’d release it. I coded the whole thing in one night last year so it’s not the best and most efficient, buts it’s a good framework to get your own stuff up and running. It’s long, north of 700 lines of code.

On another note, I’ve recently graduated from University and am excited to be moving to Chicago in a month for work. I am looking forward to the exciting opportunity. Also I will be releasing my graduating thesis in the coming weeks on RSO optimization. David Varadi has been my thesis advisor and mentor and I want to thank him for that!


Natural Language Processing

I’ve recently updated some matlab code about machine learning on to github. Today I’ll be adding to that with some Natural Language Processing (NLP) Code. The main concepts we covered in class were ngram modelling which is a markovian process. This means that future states or values have a conditional dependence on the past values. In NLP this concept is utilized via training n gram probabilities models on given texts. For example, if we specify N to equal to 3, then each word in a given sentence depends on the last two words.

So the equation for conditional probability is given by:


Extending this to multiple sequential events, this is generalized to be (chain rule)

CodeCogsEqn (1)


This above equation is very useful for modelling sequential stuff like sentences. Extension to these concepts to finance are utilized heavily in hidden Markov models that attempts to model states in various markets.  I hope the interested reader comment below for other interesting applications.

The last topic we are covering is class is computer vision. As of now, topics like image noise reduction via Gaussian filtering, edge detection, segmentation are being covered. I will post more about them in the future.

Code Link



Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence surrounds much of our lives. The aim of this branch of computer science is to build intelligent machines that is able to operate as individuals; much like humans. I am sure most of us have watched the Terminator movie series and questioned to what extent will our own society converge to that in the movie. While that may sound preposterous, much of what automated system developers do revolves around building adaptive systems that react to changes in markets. Inspired by a course I am taking at school right now, I would like to use this post as a general fundamental intro to AI.

If you ask people what intelligence is, most will initially find it hard to wrap words around the idea. We just know what it is and our gut tells us we, humans, are the pinnacle of what defines intelligence. But fact is, intelligence encompasses so much. According to the first sentence in wikipedia, there are ten different ways to define it.

“Intelligence has been defined in many different ways including logic, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, communication, learning, having emotional knowledge, retaining, planning, and problem solving.” -Wikipedia

Since it encompasses so much it is not easy to define it in a single sentence. What can be said is that intelligence relates to one’s ability to problem solve, reason, perceive relationships, and learn.

Now that I’ve offered a sense of what intelligence means, what, on the other hand, is artificial intelligence? Artificial intelligence is the field of designing machines that is capable of intelligent behavior; machines that is able to reason; machines that is able to learn. More precisely, the definition of AI can be organized in to four different sections:

  • Thinking Humanly
  • Thinking Rationally
  • Acting Humanly
  • Acting Rationally

The first two relates to thoughts processes while the last two relates to behavior. Thinking humanly revolves around whether the entity in question is able think and have a mind of its own. This is essentially making decision, learning and  problem solving. Acting humanly is whether a machine is able to process and communicate language, store information or knowledge and act based on what it knows and learn to adapt based on new information. These set of required traits are formulated based on the famous Turing Test which examines if a machine is able to act like a human through answering questions asked by anther human being. The machine passes the test if the person asking the question isn’t able to determine if its a machine or human. Thinking rationally closely incorporates the study of logic and logical reasoning. It was first introduced by Aristotle who attempted to provide a systematic way of inferring a proposition based on a given premise. An famous example would be “Socrates is a man; all man are mortal; therefore, Socrates is mortal.” Lastly, acting rationally is the idea of choosing the most suitable behavior that produces the best expected outcome. Another word one is rational if given all its knowledge and experience, selects the action that maximizes their own performance measure/utility.


When studying AI, the term agent is used to represent an entity/model that interacts with the environment. More precisely, an agent perceives the environment through its sensors and employ actions through actuators. Comparing this to humans, imagine sensors as eyes/ears and actuators as arms and legs. The sensors will at each time step take inputs, called percepts, which are than processed by the agent program. The agent program then passes the inputs in to an agent function. The agent function maps inputs to correct outputs (actions) which are then sent via the agent program to the actuators. This agent based framework closely relates to automated trading systems. The environment is the market and the changing prices at each time interval. The agent program would be our trading system which takes in daily price information and pipes it into the agent function, or the logic of the trading system. For example, todays new price is updated which is passed in to the trading logic. The logic specifies that if the current price is $10, it will sell. The sell action is passed back to the environment as a sell order.

The above example is a very basic type of agent known as the simple reflex agent. This type of agent only makes decision solely on the current percept (price). It doesn’t have a memory of the previous states. A more complex agent known as the model based reflex agent is one in which it has memory of the past, known as its own percept sequence. Also this agent has an internal understanding of how the environment works which is detailed in its own model. This model of the world takes inputs and identify the state it is in. Given the state, the model forecasts what the likely environment will be like in the next time step. Proper action is then recommended and executed via actuators. (Think of markov models)  So far, the agents I’ve introduced largely reflect that of a function that take input and spits out a output. To make things more humanly, the next agent I will introduce is called a goal based agent. This is similar to how given our current circumstances, we aim to maximize out objective function. The objective function can be money or anything that makes us happy. More concretely, the goal based agent is an extension of the model based reflex agent but it assigns a score for each recommended action. The agent will choose the one that maximizes its own objective function.

The reader will most likely ask how this knowledge helps them make money in the markets. What I can say is that finance is enter a brave new world where together with technology is transforming how money is being made in the markets. Having a understanding in finance and statistics in my opinion is not enough. Those are the areas where your competitors are already fishing (mostly). Knowledge in subject areas like AI, speech recognition, natural language processing, machine learning, and computer vision (just to name a few) will allow you to be more creative in design. I urge the curious minds to explore the unexplored!

Beyond Pairs

Writing rather prolifically this past week. Last week was the end of my midterms (for now!) and continuation of job search and preparing for my final 5 weeks of university.(!) I hope my readers are finding my posts interesting and enlightening.

As mentioned in an earlier post on statistical arbitrage, the interesting aspect of it comes when we consider multi leg portfolios. To construct a multi-leg portfolio, the traditional way to do it would be to employ a multivariate linear regression (factor model). The intuition behind this is that we are trying to estimate a fair value for an asset using various predictors or independent variables. For example, we know that the S&P 500 is composed of stocks from various sectors. Therefore, an intuitive way is to derive a fair value for S&P 500 using the 9 different sector Spdrs by the following equation:

CodeCogsEqn (3)

The residual return that is left over, “alpha”, is considered to be neutral (uncorrelated) against the industry sectors. With this framework, we now can essentially make ourselves neutral to any factors we want. For example, we have access to a wide variety of ETFs that mimic underlying asset class movements. If we want to be neutral to interest rates, credit risk, and volatility, we can employ ETFs: TLT, HYG, and VXX respectively. Below is a chart demonstrating this, showing the estimated fair value of SPY relative to the actual ETF:

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 11.33.55 AM

Below is the spread that can be traded via long short on each leg:

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 11.38.21 AM

The concept of being able to control the factors we are exposed to is very appealing as it allows us to potential shy away from turbulent events that transpire from specific assets. Not only that, these uncorrelated return streams when combined in to a portfolio allows significant risk reduction. As Dalio said, the ability to combine 15 uncorrelated return streams allows us to effectively reduce 80% of risk. (Chart below) Interestingly, from my understanding of what Bridgewater does, I am pretty confident they are employing spread trading too, but purely from a fundamental way. For example, how does a set of asset classes react to the movements of economic indicators? From there they construct synthetic spreads to trade off of these relationships.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 12.06.52 PM

Below is the code that generated the data for this post:

spread.analysis<-function(data, y.symbol, x.symbol, lookback=250){
    y = data$prices[,y.symbol]
    x = data$prices[,x.symbol]
    fv = NA * data$prices[,1]
    colnames(fv) = c('FairValue')

    for( i in (lookback+1):nrow(data$prices) ){
        hist.y = y[(i-lookback):i, y.symbol]
        hist.x = x[(i-lookback):i, x.symbol]
        lm.r = lm(hist.y ~ hist.x)
        lm.holder[[i]] = lm.r
        fv[i,] = lm.r$coefficients[1] + sum(lm.r$coefficients[-1] * x[i,])
    mat = merge( x,y,fv )
    return( list( mat = mat, fv = fv, reg.model = lm.holder ) )

Also here are some links I’ve found to be very informative.

The paper on high frequency statistical arbitrage is rather a relevant one as it relates to my previous blog posts on energy related pairs trading. Essentially, the author goes on to construct a meta algorithm for ranking pairs to trade. This meta-algorithm is composed of correlation coefficient, minimum square distance of normalized price series, and a co-integration test value. I don’t have intraday (paper used 15 min bars) equities data nor do I have the infrastructure to test it but the idea resonates with me from my research in top N momentum systems. A lot of ways to improve.

Energy Stat Arb Part 2

In my previous post, I rushed through a lot of technical details on how I implemented the strategy. For that I apologize! I am here to make up by providing more on how I approached it and hopefully make my analysis more understandable.

In this post, I want to re-visit energy pairs (XLE vs OIL) trading but with the traditional spread construction approach through regression analysis. My data comes from QuantQuote, all adjusted for dividends and splits. To read in the data, I used the following code:

from matplotlib.pylab import *
import pandas as pd
import numpy as np
import datetime as dt
xle = pd.read_csv('/Users/mg326/xle.csv', header=None,parse_dates = [[0,1]])
xle.columns = ['Timestamp', 'open', 'high', 'low', 'close', 'volume', 'Split Factor', 'Earnings', 'Dividends']
xle['Timestamp'] = xle['Timestamp'].apply(lambda x: dt.datetime.strptime(x, '%Y%m%d %H%M'))
xle = xle.set_index('Timestamp')
xle = xle[["open", "high", "low", "close"]]

For minute data, there are approximately 391 rows of data per day. Taking in to account OHLC, there are a total of 391 * 4 = 1564 data observations per day. Heres a image displaying May 9th, 2013:


If you look in to the data, you may see a price for 9:45AM but the next data point comes in at 9:50AM. This means that there was a 5 minute gap where no shares were traded. To fix and align this, the following function will align the two data sets.

def align_data(data_leg1,data_leg2,symbols):
    combined_df = pd.concat([data_leg1,data_leg2],axis=1)
    combined_df = combined_df.fillna(method='pad')
    data_panel = pd.Panel({symbols[0]: combined_df.ix[:,0:4], symbols[1]:combined_df.ix[:,4:9]}) #dict of dataframes

To construct the spread, we will run a rolling regression on the prices to extract the hedge ratio. This is then piped in to the following equation:


Given two series of prices, the following helper function will return a dictionary of the model and the spread. Following is the spread displayed.

def construct_spread(priceY,priceX,ols_lookback):
    data = pd.DataFrame({'x':priceX,'y':priceY})
    model = {}
    model['model_ols'] = pd.ols(y=data.y, x=data.x, window=ols_lookback,intercept=False)
    model['spread'] = data.y - (model['model_ols'].beta*data.x)
    return model


To normalize it, simply subtract a rolling mean and divide that by the rolling standard deviation. Image of normalized spread follows.

zscore = lambda x: (x[-1] - x.mean()) / x.std(ddof=1)
sprd['zs'] = pd.rolling_apply(sprd, zs_window, zscore)  # zscore


Without changing our parameters, a +-2 std will be our trigger point. At this threshold, there is a total of 16 trades. Here is the performance if we took all the trades for the day, frictionless:


Pretty ugly in my opinion but its only a day. Lets display all the daily equity performance distributed for the whole year of 2013.


The flat line initially is for the 60 bar lookback window for each day, unrealistic but it does give a rough picture on the returns. The average final portfolio gain is 0.06 with std of 0.13. The performance is pretty stellar when you look at 2013 as a whole. Comparing this to the other spread construction in my last post, its seems to reduce the variance of returns when incorporating a longer lookback period.

2013Coming up in the next instalment I want to investigate whether incorporating Garch models for volatility forecasting will help improve the performance of spread trading.

Thanks for reading,