Machine Learning and Forward Looking Information in Option Prices

  • Qi Hu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The use of forward-looking information from option prices attracted a lot of attention after the 2008 financial crisis, which highlighting the difficulty of using historical data to predict extreme events. Although a considerable number of papers investigate extraction of forward-information from cross-sectional option prices, Figlewski (2008) argues that it is still an open question and none of the techniques is clearly superior. This thesis focuses on getting information from option prices and investigates two broad topics: applying machine learning in extracting state price density and recovering natural probability from option prices. The estimation of state price density (often described as risk-neutral density in the option pricing litera- ture) is of considerable importance since it contains valuable information about investors’ expectations and risk preferences. However, this is a non-trivial task due to data limitation and complex arbitrage-free constraints. In this thesis, I develop a more efficient linear programming support vector machine (L1-SVM) estimator for state price density which incorporates no-arbitrage restrictions and bid-ask spread. This method does not depend on a particular approximation function and framework and is, therefore, universally applicable. In a parallel empirical study, I apply the method to options on the S&P 500, showing it to be comparatively accurate and smooth. In addition, since the existing literature has no consensus about what information is recovered from The Recovery Theorem, I empirically examine this recovery problem in a continuous diffusion setting. Using the market data of S&P 500 index option and synthetic data generated by Ornstein–Uhlenbeck (OU) process, I show that the recovered probability is not the real-world probability. Finally, to further explain why The Recovery Theorem fails and show the existence of associated martingale component, I demonstrate a example bivariate recovery.
Date of Award22 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDavid Newton (Supervisor) & Ania Zalewska (Supervisor)


  • Machine Learning
  • option pricing
  • risk neutral density

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