Date of Graduation

5-2015

Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Department or Program

Mathematics

First Advisor

Thomas Pietraho

Abstract

In order to identify potentially profitable investment strategies, hedge funds and asset managers can use historical market data to simulate a strategy's performance, a process known as backtesting. While the abundance of historical stock price data and powerful computing technologies has made it feasible to run millions of simulations in a short period of time, this process may produce statistically insignificant results in the form of false positives. As the number of configurations of a strategy increases, it becomes more likely that some of the configurations will perform well by chance alone. The phenomenon of backtest overfitting occurs when a model interprets market idiosyncrasies as signal rather than noise, and is often not taken into account in the strategy selection process. As a result, the finance industry and academic literature are rife with skill-less strategies that have no capability of beating the market. This paper explores the development of a minimum criterion that managers and investors can use during the backtesting process in order to increase confidence that a strategy's performance is not the result of pure chance. To do this we will use extreme value theory to determine the probability of observing a specific result, or something more extreme than this result, given that multiple configurations of a strategy were tested.

COinS