Overview and Main Features of QuanTek

(Revised January 10, 2014)


Robert Murray, Ph.D.

Omicron Research Institute


(Copyright Ó 2014 Omicron Research Institute.  All rights reserved.)


1.0    Contents

  1. Introduction to QuanTek
  2. How to Use QuanTek for Trading
  3. Stochastic Processes and Filtering
    1. Stochastic Processes
    2. Linear Prediction Filter
  4. Graphs and Displays in QuanTek
    1. Main Graph – Overview
    2. Main Graph – Scale 1
    3. Main Graph – Scale 2
    4. Main Graph – Scale 4
    5. Main Graph – Scale 8
    6. Harmonic Oscillator Splitter Window
    7. Harmonic Oscillator Buy/Sell Signals
    8. Other Stock Graph Features
  5. Portfolio Optimization in QuanTek
    1. Optimal Portfolio
    2. Short-Term Trades Dialog
    3. Portfolio Report
  6. Trading and Portfolio Parameters Settings
    1. Time Horizon
    2. Trading Parameters
    3. Portfolio Parameters
  7. Other Features
  8. References

1.1    Introduction to QuanTek

QuanTek is a trading program for stocks (and indexes, mutual funds, futures, etc.) designed for short-term traders and long-term investors.  The main feature of QuanTek is its use of an advanced Wavelet Linear Prediction (LP) filter to estimate future returns, and from these and the measured covariance matrix to compute an Optimal Portfolio.  Then short-term trading takes place by portfolio rebalancing within this portfolio. In this way QuanTek makes use of the most state-of-the-art principles of Econometrics, as well as Digital Signal Processing, available at the present time.  QuanTek uses a modified Markowitz method to compute the Optimal Portfolio, which yields maximum returns with minimum risk.  This is a standard computation from Modern Portfolio Theory.

It is well known that it is extremely difficult to “beat the market” by active trading. The Random Walk model is correct to a high degree of accuracy. However, as in any kind of market, in the stock market inefficiencies exist which enable the astute trader to make a profit. To make a profit in the stock market requires an accurate estimate of the future returns over some time interval. Unfortunately, these turn out to be extremely difficult to estimate. In many cases the best overall results can be obtained just by investing in an index fund. This is because, unless you are very careful, active trading can result in unacceptable risk (standard deviation of returns) without any corresponding gain in returns. QuanTek thus tries to combine the best of both worlds by using active trading within a diversified portfolio. The Optimal Portfolio is calculated every day, using the Price Projection from the LP filter for each security, along with the measured covariance matrix between all the securities in the portfolio. Then the short-term trading consists of a portfolio rebalancing to bring the actual positions into line with the recommended positions every day. Using the portfolio rebalancing technique enables short-term trading while maintaining an Optimal Portfolio that maximizes returns and minimizes risk. Only in this way is it possible to see a slow, steady return over time in the portfolio, without too much variation in the returns, both in bull and bear markets.

At this point we would like to warn you that QuanTek is merely a tool to help you manage your portfolio for maximum returns with minimum risk.  It is still of utmost importance for each investor or trader to use his or her own judgment in all investing or trading decisions.  The ultimate responsibility for wise investing or trading rests with you, the investor or trader.  The QuanTek program can help you optimize your portfolio more accurately, but QuanTek cannot supply all the information you need to make fully informed trading decisions.  You should take into account the overall condition of the economy, as well as the health of various business sectors and the fundamental condition of each company you want to invest in.  It is only after these factors have been considered that you should engage in long-term investing or short-term trading in any particular company’s stock.  (This is also why QuanTek does not tell you which stocks to buy!)  Even after this, you should always let your own judgment be the final criterion for each and every investing or trading decision.  It is always unsafe to blindly trust the advice of any financial guru, broker, investment newsletter writer, as well as any software product, without subjecting it to your own critical examination and making the final judgment yourself!

1.2           How to Use QuanTek for Trading

The goal of QuanTek is to use the best ideas from the fields of Econometrics and Portfolio Management to devise a set of Trading Rules that yield the maximum returns with minimum risk. Unlike most other trading programs, we wish to place special emphasis on controlling risk. The Random Walk model is a close approximation to the stochastic properties of financial returns, viewed as a stochastic process. If this model were entirely correct, then no amount of active trading would result in positive returns over a long time average. This is because no matter what the previous price patterns might be, from any given point the probability for the price to go up or down from there is always exactly 50%. The only reason to invest at all would be if a Random Walk with drift model can be assumed, in which case the only sensible strategy would be Buy & Hold. Any active trading with this type of stochastic model would result in increased risk, with no corresponding increase in returns.

However, the assumption of a Random Walk with drift model is too simplistic and the actual market dynamics are far more complex. Rather than trying to estimate this (constant) long-term drift, we prefer to believe that it is possible to estimate this expected return on a variety of time scales, at least approximately. This is the purpose of the Wavelet Linear Prediction filter, which attempts to measure past correlation in the returns, which is usually non-stationary (time-dependent), and use this to attempt to estimate the expected return out to 128 days in the future. The average volatility or risk along with the correlation between securities, or covariance matrix, is also measured, and together these quantities are used to compute an Optimal Portfolio using the (slightly modified) Markowitz method. It should be emphasized that estimating the (time-varying) expected future return is a very difficult problem. In fact, the Random Walk model says it is impossible, and the expected return should be zero or, in the case of the Random Walk model with drift, the constant drift “velocity”. However, it is essential to make this estimate in order to construct any kind of Optimal Portfolio.

The Optimal Portfolio is re-computed every day, after you have downloaded the end-of-day data for the securities in your portfolio. Then, on the next trading day, you can adjust or rebalance the positions in your chosen portfolio to correspond to the computed positions in the Optimal Portfolio. It does not matter exactly at what buy/sell point the adjustment is made, although using information in the Stock Graph and Short-Term Trades dialog, you can set day limit orders to try to get a better price. You can also use the buy/sell signals from the Harmonic Oscillator indicator and a feature from the Short-Term Trades dialog to help you set N-day limit orders. However, the important point is to keep up with the changes in the recommended positions (either daily or on an N-day time scale), at whatever price. This is because the recommended positions in the Optimal Portfolio are responding to perceived trend changes on an N-day time scale, and it is these longer-term trends that are important. Another reason is that, according to the Random Walk model, it does not even matter at what price point trades are made, and this model is still approximately correct. Also, if the portfolio is kept in balance at all times, this is the best way to reduce risk, because no matter which way the market may move, the short positions will balance the downside risk and the long positions will take maximum advantage of the upside “risk”, in a way that optimizes the maximum return with minimum risk.

The results of the Optimal Portfolio are displayed in the Short-Term Trades dialog, which can be displayed anywhere in the program by pressing the Alt key. A more detailed display of various portfolio information, including measured past and estimated future returns on four different time scales, as well as the Optimal Portfolio calculation, can be found in the Portfolio Report, which may be viewed anywhere in the program from a button on the Dialog Bar. From the Dialog Bar are also available three different Help dialogs, each of which link to the main HTML Help file. Also from (almost) any window in the QuanTek program, you may view a Help dialog pertaining to that window, just by right-clicking the mouse.

1.3    Stochastic Processes and Filtering

In the usual approach to Technical Analysis, such as described in the classic text by Edwards & Magee [EM] and the book by Pring [Pr], one looks for certain patterns in the past stock prices, which indicate potential buy/sell points.  This is because these patterns in past prices are thought to be correlated with future up-trends or down-trends, either a change in trend from up to down or down to up, or a continuation of the current trend.  These standard technical indicators are probably so well known by now that they are largely ineffective, since everyone follows them, and in addition they were more effective 50 to 80 years ago, when the markets were much smaller and much less efficient than they are now. So now the question is, since modern markets are very efficient, what is the best strategy for trading and investing, beyond Technical Analysis?

Financial markets are very efficient, but undoubtedly they are not completely efficient. It should still be possible to estimate that securities prices are overvalued or undervalued, and take advantage of this determination to make a profit in the market. In other words, there should exist some correlation between past price patterns and future returns. The prices are, of course, influenced by exogenous events such as economic and political developments, as well as earnings reports from each company, which are largely unpredictable, but these may not affect the long-term correlationin the data.  The correlation, if it exists at any given time, is due to the market dynamics not being perfectly efficient, because investors are not perfectly rational and knowledgeable in their behavior, and they also may have a short time horizon.  The goal is to try to take advantage of this (slight) inefficiency by searching for the correlation and then basing a set of trading rules on it. In order to find this correlation, we make use of a Linear Prediction filter to make a Price Projection.

Pundits will say, of course, that there is no correlation in the stock data, and all the LP filter is doing is “fitting to the noise”.  It is indeed true that the market is very efficient and a large part of the Price Projection is indeed just that – fitting to the noise. Whatever correlation there is will be buried in stochastic noise and hard to isolate.  However, it is necessary to try to make a prediction or estimate of future returns, no matter what, for the sake of portfolio optimization.  So we assume that there is a signal buried within the noise, and try to make a prediction of the future signal apart from the noise.  Hopefully the long-term estimate of future returns will “capture” the signal buried in the noise, although the shorter-term fluctuations may indeed just be “fitting to the noise”.  Note that any kind of estimate of future returns based on past data will run into this same type of problem, including Technical Analysis or Fundamental Analysis.  Basing this estimate on long-term trends or moving averages, as in Technical Analysis, is equivalent to using a particular kind of LP filter, but the LP filters used by QuanTek are more sophisticated than that.  The basic assumption being made here is that the signal resides in the low frequency, long-term changes in the returns, which is buried in the noise, which corresponds to the high frequency, short-term fluctuations in returns.  On the other hand, there could very well be correlation in the high frequency fluctuations as well, which would require even higher-frequency data to resolve.  The central problem, therefore, is one of separating out a signal buried in stochastic noise, and this is a problem in Signal Processing.

Stochastic Processes

Financial returns data constitute what is known as a stochastic process.  The simplest type of stochastic process is the familiar Random Walk.  It was first postulated over a century ago by Bachelier [B] that stock (actually, futures) prices follow a Random Walk.  It is still hotly debated even now whether this is in fact the case.  Many people, when performing a statistical analysis of stock data, are unable to discern any statistically significant difference between stock price series and a Random Walk.  My position is that the stock prices are not even a Random Walk.  A Random Walk (with drift) is a stationary stochastic process, meaning that the statistical properties do not change with time.  In particular, if the price series were a Random Walk, then it would have a constant drift velocity or secular trend.  In that case, the only sensible investment strategy would be Buy & Hold, to take advantage of this secular trend, which would always be constant.  This is really quite a strong prediction of future price action!  However, this is too good to be true, and evidently the constancy of this secular trend is too much to ask.  Instead, it appears that price returns data constitute a non-stationary stochastic process.  This means that the statistical properties vary with time, including the drift velocity or trend, and the correlation structure.  So in this case, the optimal strategy is one of active trading.  The purpose of the QuanTek program is to try to determine the optimum Trading Rules to take best advantage of this non-stationary correlation structure, using portfolio rebalancing within an Optimal Portfolio.

QuanTek has the capability to construct a variety of different technical indicators and measure the correlation between these and the future returns.  The typical length of the (daily) data set used is N = 1024 days, or about four years.  This means that there is a statistical uncertainty in the measurement of the correlation of about  or 3.125%.  However, even a correlation of this magnitude could give a very nice annual gain if it were real, depending on the average daily volatility of the price returns.  So this is the quandary:  Small correlations, if they exist, can yield substantial profits from short-term trading, but these small correlations are buried in the stochastic noise and are of the same order of magnitude as the noise (or smaller).  This is the reason why researchers in the past have not been able to discern any (statistically significant) difference between stock returns data and random (white) noise.  Furthermore, the financial time series should be taken as a non-stationary stochastic process, so the correlation structure will be time dependent.  So the problem is how to extract useful non-stationary correlations from the stochastic noise and convert this correlation into profitable trading rules. 

It should be mentioned that in the case of stationary stochastic processes, the law of large numbers is used to prove theorems about the existence and uncertainty of correlations.  The correlation is only defined in the limit as the size N of the data set goes to infinity.  For a non-stationary stochastic process we do not have this luxury.  In fact, one major problem with financial time series is that the actual amount of data is rather sparse, so the statistical uncertainties are always large.  If the correlation changes over an interval of N days, then the statistical uncertainty in the correlation will be  (approximately) and will never improve beyond that, no matter how long the data set is.  So how can we ever prove the existence of correlation and the effectiveness of Trading Rules?  Instead of the limit , which is usually used in the theory of stationary stochastic processes, we can in the present case substitute an average over a large portfolio of stocks.  The Linear Prediction filter is applied to the returns series of each individual stock, and it yields Trading Rules for that stock which give a certain return per year.  This return per year for an individual stock may be substantial, but the standard deviation of the return will also be substantial and will be of the same order of magnitude.  However, if we keep applying the Linear Prediction filter to the stock over a long period of time, the returns should be proportional to time N, while the standard deviation of returns only increases like .  So eventually after a period of time, the average returns should become much greater than the uncertainty in returns.  We can likewise reduce the standard deviation, relative to the returns, still further by computing the Trading Rules for an entire portfolio of stocks.  The average return for the portfolio should remain roughly the same when the number of stocks is increased (for a given amount of equity), while the standard deviation of returns (risk) for the portfolio should decrease like  for a portfolio of M stocks (assuming the stocks are uncorrelated).  More generally, it is given in terms of the covariance matrix for the portfolio.  This is where the Portfolio Optimization routine in QuanTek comes in.  The return for the whole portfolio is maximized while the risk, or standard deviation of returns, is minimized, subject to the degree of risk tolerance that you select.  It is only by examining the whole portfolio return over a period of years that the effectiveness of the Linear Prediction filter and Trading Rules can be evaluated.

Linear Prediction Filter

The QuanTek program uses a custom Linear Prediction filter for its future Price Projection.  The way this works, in a nutshell, is as follows:  It is a well-known theorem, the Wiener-Khinchin Theorem [NR], that the power spectrum of a stationary stochastic process is the Fourier Transform of the autocovariance sequence.  (We take the time series to be stationary over the 1024-day period, in this case, as an approximation.)  Then, starting with the spectrum of the process, it is always possible to compute the corresponding autocovariance sequence, and given this autocovariance sequence, the Linear Prediction filter coefficients can then be computed.  The spectrum of the process can be measured using the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and displayed as a standard Periodogram Spectrum.  Alternatively, the spectrum can be measured using the Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT) and displayed as the Wavelet Spectrum.  (Note that these spectrum measurements are themselves very noisy.) The spectrum contains all the information about the (second-order) correlation in the time series.  If the (true) spectrum is completely flat and horizontal, then there is no correlation and the (returns) series is just “white noise”, and the (price) series is a Random Walk.  If the spectrum shows a peak at low frequencies, then this indicates positive correlation of returns or trend persistence.  If, however, the spectrum shows a dip at low frequencies, then this indicates negative correlation of returns or trend anti-persistence.  So, contrary to dogma, it is not always true that the trend is persistent (trending market).  Sometimes there is a return to the mean mechanism at work (trading market).  This illustrates that the correlation itself can change (slowly, we hope!) over time, and the time series is non-stationary.

Another aspect of the custom Linear Prediction filter is that it incorporates what we call a Fractional Difference filter.  This is a filter for fractionally integrated noise processes or so-called long memory processes [BD].  The fractionally integrated noise process is characterized by a parameter, which we call the fractal dimension or fractional difference parameter d which ranges from –0.5 to +0.5.  The fractal dimensions in the range  characterize the long memory processes, which exhibit long-term trend persistence.  The fractal dimensions in the range  are sometimes called intermediate memory processes and exhibit short-term anti-persistence.  The long-memory processes are sometimes attributed to fractal statistics.  It is thought that stock data exhibit this type of long memory persistence [Pt1, Pt2].  (However, we are finding that this is only true part of the time.)

To take into account the non-stationarity of the returns series, we can use a Wavelet Linear Prediction filter. This is done by making use of a Wavelet series for the returns data instead of, say, a Fourier series. In this case, the correlation is described by the properties of the Wavelet variance instead of the Periodogram. Since the Wavelet series decomposes the signal in both frequency and time (non-stationary), as opposed to the Fourier series, which only decomposes the signal in the frequency domain (stationary), this is a better method for describing financial time series. Using Wavelets, the long-period fluctuations have an influence over a corresponding long period of time, while the short-period fluctuations have an influence over a corresponding short period of time, which is just what we want. So using the Wavelet Linear Prediction filter, we have a better chance of capturing the real correlation in the returns data, and avoiding the problem of “fitting to the noise”.

1.4    Graphs and Displays in QuanTek

QuanTek has a variety of graphs and displays.  There is a Main Graph, which displays all the stock price data in a scrollable display.  The Main Graph comes in four different scales, each of which displays a different aspect of the data.  Also noteworthy is the Price Projection on the Main Graph, which shows the output of the Linear Prediction filter.  This filter attempts to estimate the future return, based upon any correlation in the past price returns that might exist. 

Associated with the Main Graph are three other View windows. One is the Harmonic Oscillator splitter window, with three panes, which displays a set of custom technical indicators of the oscillator type based on acausal Savitzky-Golay smoothing of the price data. Another is a Stock Info form view, which displays split, dividend, and (not used at present) earnings data, and also a variety of other Fundamental data. Finally is the Stock Data text view, which displays the actual (unadjusted) prices, and also the Adjustment factor, which is the factor multiplying the unadjusted prices to get the adjusted prices (which are displayed on the Main Graph). This Adjustment factor compensates for splits and dividends in the price data.

Main Graph – Overview

The Main Graph is designed to give a panoramic view of the entire data set, and is easy to interpret and easily scrollable.  The price axis moves automatically to keep the display centered, when you scroll along the time axis, or you can scroll along the price axis manually if necessary.  The prices are displayed on a logarithmic scale. There are four scales of the graph, each of which displays different information. The Main Graph displays adjusted price bars for each trading day (adjusted for stock splits and dividends), showing high, low, close, and (on the highest scale) open prices. It also displays buy/sell points, buy/sell signals, and a 512-day smoothing curve, N-day smoothing curve, 2048-day trend line, and the highest scale is a Candlestick chart.  In connection with the 512-day smoothing curves and 2048-day trend lines, a set of Bollinger Bands are displayed, corresponding to one- and two-standard deviations of the average absolute deviation of the prices from the curves.  The Price Projection is displayed in blue, after the most recent past data on the graph.  This display shows the output of the Linear Prediction filter.  At the top is an information bar which lists the N-day expected return (annualized) from the Price Projection. There is an error bar for each future projected price; to display an approximate estimated one-standard-deviation range for the future price.  This range is approximately proportional to , where n is the number of days in the future for the projected price.  (This corresponds to the standard deviation of the Random Walk process.) The relative (logarithmic) volume is also displayed along the bottom of the graph. 

When you open a stock data file, the Main Graph appears.  This graph can be switched between four different magnification scales.  These scales are denoted scale 1, 2, 4, and 8, which indicates their relative magnification value.  (Each scale is magnified by a factor of two relative to the preceding one.  Both the horizontal and vertical axes are magnified by the same factor, so the slope of the price graph is preserved. This is a logarithmic slope, indicating the percentage change in prices per unit time.)  When you first open the Main Graph, it is on scale 2.  Each scale contains some different technical indicators, which are described here.  You can move back and forth between scales using the blue arrows on the toolbar.  You can also move back and forth between blocks of the data using the magenta arrows. (The whole data set, no matter how long, is displayed in one continuous graph.)

On scale 2 of the Main Graph are displayed the buy/sell points, denoted by green and red vertical arrows, which are the beginning points of a range of buy/sell signals that are displayed on scales 4 and 8. On scale 4 is displayed all the buy/sell signals, while on scale 8 is displayed all those, interpreted as limit orders, that actually went through in the past data. The buy/sell signals in the future Price Projection are set at prices offset from the expected price according to some multiple of the size of the error bar for day N in the future. (The multiple is set as one of the Trading Parameters in the Trading & Portfolio dialog.) These buy/sell points and buy/sell signals, derived from the Harmonic Oscillator indicator, may be used as supplementary technical indicators of the oscillator type to try to time trades according to possible cycles in the prices on time scale N. We want to emphasize that there is no real way to test these signals for reliability and they may have no statistical significance. We advocate the portfolio rebalancing technique as the main mode of short-term trading. However, in the event you do not want to rebalance the portfolio every day, you may instead want to rebalance it ever N days on the average, timing your buys and sells in accordance with the buy/sell points and buy/sell signals. Another way to interpret these signals is that they represent possible N-day trend changes.

By the way, you can see all the graphs with either a black background or a white background, using the Toggle Dark Colors button on the Main Window toolbar.   The black or white backgrounds use a different set of colors for the different features of the graphs.  Generally, the colors for the black background are the dark versions of the colors for the white background.  The black background is on by default.  Lastly, one nice feature of the Main Graph is that, if you rest the mouse pointer at any point in the graph, a tool tip pops up, which lists the price level at that point and the date.  This is very handy for finding the price and date of any point on the graph. You can also display a horizontal line at any price point just by clicking the mouse at that point.

Main Graph – Scale 1

This is the long-term view of the stock data.  Each day of data occupies one pixel of the screen, so there is no tick for the closing price on this scale.  The future projection, with error bars, is the blue area to the right of the graph.  On this scale, a 2048-day trend line (or the length of the data, whichever is shorter) is displayed which is a robust straight-line fit to the data (minimizing the sum of the absolute deviations from the line).  This is shown as the centerline, in dark yellow.  On either side of this line are two sets of Bollinger Bands, at one standard deviation (dark cyan) and two standard deviations (dark magenta) away from the centerline, respectively.  These may be used to gauge the relative long-term variations of the price away from the long-term robust trend line – an overbought/oversold indicator.  This graph is good for seeing the long-term trend of the price data at a glance. Also, in the Buy & Hold method of investing, the 2048-day trend line is the indicator you would use to estimate the long-term future returns. In fact, for large well-established companies on an established trend we have found that this indicator has a robust correlation with future returns. (But beware that the trend can change with changes in the economy.)

Main Graph – Scale 2

This is the scale which first appears when a stock data file is opened.  On this scale, there are two pixels per trading day.  Each vertical bar ranges between the high and low for the day, and there is a horizontal tick for the closing price.  If you look closely, underneath the data bars is a dark blue curve, representing the N-day (acausal) smoothing curve of the price data, where N is the time horizon that you have selected (in the Trading & Portfolio Parameters dialog box).  To the right is the Price Projection, which is the output of the Linear Prediction filter, and the vertical blue bars are the one standard deviation error bars for the projection.  By analogy with the Random Walk, they can be seen to grow approximately as the square root of the number of days in the future.  The dark yellow curve is a 512-day (acausal) smoothing of the price data.  On either side of this curve, in dark cyan and dark magenta, are the Bollinger Bands corresponding to one and two standard deviations, respectively, away from the center curve.

Featured prominently in this scale are the buy/sell points, which are the green and red arrows.  These show the optimum points to buy and sell, given the selected time horizon, and correspond to the positive/negative going zero (actually, Threshold) crossing points of the Velocity indicator (on the middle pane of the Harmonic Oscillator splitter window).  These green and red arrows are represented in all the splitter windows as green and red vertical lines, and they serve to line up all the features on the graphs, as well as indicate the optimum past N-day buy/sell points.  The green and red arrows in the future Price Projection are future estimated buy/sell points, based on the Harmonic Oscillator indicator.

Main Graph – Scale 4

This graph is basically the same as scale 2, except a factor of two larger.  There are four pixels per data point on this scale.  This makes it easier to see the short-term price fluctuations.  The main difference from scale 2 is that, instead of displaying the buy/sell points, it displays the buy/sell signals.  The buy/sell signals are ranges of buy points and sell points, designed for setting limit orders, with the starting point in each range of buy/sell signals marked as the buy/sell point.  The absolute value of the Velocity indicator above which a set of buy/sell signals starts, marked by a buy/sell point, is set by the Threshold control on the Trading & Portfolio Parameters dialog. It will be noticed that the buy signals are a little below the N-day smoothing of the prices, and the sell points a little above.  The degree that the buy/sell signals are below/above this N-day smoothing curve is set by the Range control on the Trading & Portfolio Parameters dialog.  As just stated, the buy/sell signals in the future Price Projection may be used as a guide for placing optimal N-day buy/sell limit orders.

Main Graph – Scale 8

This is the largest scale of the four graph scales.  This scale uses eight pixels for each day of data.  It will be noticed that this scale incorporates Candlestick Charting rather than the more usual bar charting of the other scales.  The Candlesticks provide a way to display the high, low, close, and open prices, whereas with the bar charting the open price is not displayed.  The Candlestick consists of a colored rectangle superimposed on a vertical line.  The ends of the vertical line mark the high and low prices for the day, as before.  However, the upper/lower edges of the rectangle mark the open/close or the close/open prices.  If the close is higher than the open (an up day), the rectangle is colored sky blue, while if the close is lower than the open (a down day) the rectangle is colored dark blue.  There is a whole set of technical patterns associated with and unique to the Candlesticks, which can be found in books devoted to Candlestick Charts (see also an appendix to Pring’s book on Technical Analysis [Pr]).  Also displayed on this scale are the buy/sell signals that were actually triggered, meaning that the low price reached down to the buy signal or the high price reached up to the sell signal.  (These are displayed using little green/red triangles.)  From this you can tell the relative frequency with which these buy/sell signals were actually triggered (with the benefit of perfect hindsight, of course), and use this to set the Threshold and Range controls appropriately.  For the future projection, all the projected buy/sell signals are displayed as green/red triangles.  All the other features of the graph, such as Bollinger Bands, are the same as with the other scales (except that the N-day smoothing curve is not shown on this scale).  This is the best scale to use to study the price action for each individual day.

Harmonic Oscillator Splitter Window

The Harmonic Oscillator is a set of three technical indicators in a splitter window, obtained by three different smoothings of the price data using the acausal Savitzky-Golay smoothing filter.  From these three smoothings, a set of buy/sell points are shown as vertical green/red lines in each window.  The present time is displayed as a vertical yellow line.  To the past of this line, the past data are smoothed, and buy/sell points are displayed with the benefit of hindsight.  To the future of this line, a future projection is displayed (based on past data), and future estimated buy/sell points are also shown.  This future projection (of the indicators) is based on the standard Burg Linear Prediction filter, different from the Price Projection used in the Main Graph. (The Burg Linear Prediction filter is like an extrapolation of the sinusoidal components of the signal, which makes it the best choice for this particular indicator.)

The panes of this splitter window are called Relative Price, Velocity, and Acceleration.  These three indicators display a smoothed difference of prices between an N-day and 512-day smoothing, a smoothed first derivative or returns, and a smoothed second derivative or rate of change of returns, respectively.  Using acausal Savitzky-Golay smoothing, so that there is no lag or phase shift, the buy/sell points should line up (at zero Threshold setting) with the minima/maxima (min/max) of the Relative Price, the positive/negative zero-crossing (Z+/Z–) of the Velocity, and the maxima/minima (max/min) of the Acceleration, respectively.  The buy/sell points derived from the Harmonic Oscillator indicators are shown in all the splitter windows as green/red vertical lines, and the Main Graph as green/red arrows.

Harmonic Oscillator Buy/Sell Signals

The buy/sell signals are defined from the three Harmonic Oscillator indicators.  A buy point is triggered if the Relative Price indicator is negative and the Velocity indicator is above a certain level set by the Threshold control in the Trading & Portfolio Parameters dialog.  Also the Velocity and Acceleration indicators must both be positive.  These last two conditions restrict the range of buy signals to the quarter “cycle” (if the data were sinusoidal) following the minimum of the Relative Price indicator.  A sell point is triggered if the Relative Price indicator is positive and the Velocity indicator is above (in absolute value) a certain level set by the Threshold control in the Trading & Portfolio Parameters dialog.  Also the Velocity and Acceleration indicators must both be negative.  These last two conditions restrict the range of sell signals to the quarter “cycle” (if the data were sinusoidal) following the maximum of the Relative Price indicator.  The Threshold control determines the minimum level (in absolute value) of the Velocity indicator at which buy/sell points are triggered.  The Range control determines the range of the daily average volatility that triggers the buy/sell signal.  In this way you can set buy/sell signals only for extremes of price, or more often for smaller maxima or minima of price.  The buy/sell signals are displayed in scale 4 and scale 8 of the Main Graph.  (The Main Graph scale 8 only displays those buy/sell signals that were actually “triggered” as limit orders.) 

The buy/sell points consist of the first of a series of buy/sell signals.  Hence a buy point will occur (at zero Threshold) when the Relative Price indicator is at a minimum (min), the Velocity indicator is crossing the zero line moving upward (Z+), and the Acceleration indicator is at a maximum (max).  A sell point will occur (at zero Threshold) when the Relative Price indicator is at a maximum (max), the Velocity indicator is crossing the zero line moving downward (Z–), and the Acceleration indicator is at a minimum (min).  Actually these points will be delayed a little bit according to the minimum Threshold setting. These buy/sell points are mainly for the purpose of marking the most favorable points to buy and sell in the range of buy/sell signals, and also as markers to line up the features in all the graphs.

Other Stock Graph Features

It should also be mentioned that the logarithmic volume appears at the bottom of each graph, relative to the mean value of the logarithmic volume.  You can also display a horizontal line anywhere in the graph simply by pointing the mouse to that price level and left-clicking.  You can draw a horizontal line for a given price using the Horizontal Line button on the toolbar.  You can also insert an exponential Moving Average (of the prices relative to the 512-day smoothing curve) using the Moving Averages toolbar button.  You can select a color for the horizontal line or exponential MA by using the Custom Colors button.  Finally, you can togglethe buy/sell points and buy/sell signals on and off using the Buy/Sell Points button.  You can view the appearance of the Price Projection at any date in the past using the Historical Projection button. You can calculate the actual error bars (over the past 1024 days) and display these using the Projected Error Bars button. Using this button you can also toggle between the estimated error bars and the actual error bars (after they are calculated). Finally, you can restore the graph to its default appearance using the Restore Data button.

1.5    Portfolio Optimization in QuanTek

The Portfolio Optimization routine makes use of the standard Markowitz Model from Modern Portfolio Theory.  This calculation uses the covariance matrix of all the stocks in the portfolio, along with the expected returns computed from the Price Projection, to compute an Optimal Portfolio that maximizes returns and minimizes risk for the overall portfolio. 

Optimal Portfolio

The Portfolio Optimization routine computes the covariance matrix of all the stocks in the portfolio, consisting of all the stocks (not indexes or averages) in a particular folder that have the “Trade this stock?” checkbox checked (Buy/Sell button on the Dialog Bar).  The variance and covariance are based on the average volatility and correlation of the returns between all the stocks.  The variance (actually, standard deviation, the square root of variance) of returns of an individual stock is a measure of its risk.  The other quantity that goes into the calculation is the expected return, which is estimated from the N-day future price of the Price Projection. (Actually, it is an N-day average of returns starting with the N-day expected future return and going back N days, ending up with the N-day past return.) Then a calculation is done to maximize returns for the portfolio as a whole, and at the same time minimize risk.  This calculation is called the Markowitz Model.  This results in an optimal portfolio in which the recommended positions optimize the ratio of return/risk.  This calculation depends on a parameter called the Risk Tolerance (opposite of risk aversion), which you set in the Trading & Portfolio Parameters dialog box.  The other parameter you need to set is the desired Margin Leverage, which sets the overall ratio of the value of the portfolio to the equity of the portfolio (in the Model Portfolio tracked by QuanTek).  The results of this calculation are displayed in the Short-Term Trades dialog and in the Portfolio Report.

Short-Term Trades Dialog

The Short-Term Trades dialog is a modeless dialog box, which can be viewed from anywhere in the QuanTek program just by pressing the Alt key.  It displays all the most important trading information for the whole portfolio of stocks together in one place, to enable daily portfolio rebalancing at a glance.  In the main list box of this dialog, each security is displayed on one line.  (You can open each stock data file by double clicking on this line.)  The line of information starts with the symbol and actual number of shares currently held, and the corresponding percentage of the portfolio.  Then the output from the Portfolio Optimization routine is shown, which consists of the recommended number of shares in the portfolio and the corresponding percentage of the portfolio. Finally the Sharpe Ratio is displayed, which is the ratio of the N-day average return (average of future N-day expected returns and past N-day actual returns) to the average risk (standard deviation). This gives an indication of the “quality” of the position, with a higher value either long (positive) or short (negative) indicating a higher return/risk ratio.

On the right-hand side of the Short-Term Trades dialog, there is a list box containing a column of prices on the left and a column of percentages on the right.  In the center (vertically) of the list box, corresponding to ZERO percent, the price listed is the estimated N-day closing price.  This estimate is based on the estimate of the N-day return from the Price Projection.  By clicking on one of the prices in the list box (representing the possible N-day prices), it is brought to the center, and then the difference between the selected price and the estimated N-day closing price as a percentage of N-day volatility can be read from the right-hand column.  Each trader can then use this to set N-day limit orders.  This is the most versatile way we could think of to accommodate a wide range of N-day trading strategies

Portfolio Report

The Portfolio Report contains all of the information in the Short-Term Trades dialog, and more besides.  You can create a Portfolio Report just by clicking the button on the Dialog Bar, or the toolbar button on the Main Frame toolbar.  Then the portfolio information is acquired from the header files of all the securities in the selected folder, or Stock Group, and the report is then compiled.

The first part of the Portfolio Report consists of a list of all the securities in the Stock Group, together with information such as the N-Day Expected, N-Day Average, 128-day Return, 2048-day Return, and the Standard Deviation.  The N-Day Expected is the estimated N-day return from the Price Projection. The N-Day Average is an average going back N days of the N-day future expected and past returns. The 128-day Return is a wavelet-smoothed average of past returns, and the 2048-day Return is the slope of the 2048-day robust trend line.  The N-Day Average and the Standard Deviation are just the information that goes into the Optimal Portfolio calculation. 

Next is a section consisting of a list of all the securities actually owned in the portfolio, together with the number of shares, market value, last price, and basis price.  The basis price is updated every time a security is bought or sold.

Then is a list of the overall portfolio quantities of interest, such as the account equity, long and short market value, cash balance, and buying power.  Also the margin leverage is displayed, which is the long market value plus short market value, as a percentage of account equity. (Note that the account equity is the long market value minus short market value plus cash balance. When you add to or subtract from a long or short position, the account equity remains unchanged.)

After that is a section listing the Optimal Portfolio calculation, listing the Current Position (shares), Current Position (percent of equity) and then the Optimal Position (shares), Optimal Position (percent of equity).  Finally is displayed the Sharpe Ratio, which is the N-Day Average divided by the Standard Deviation, expressed as a percent. This quantity is a measure of the ratio of (recent) return/risk for the individual security.

Finally, the Optimal Portfolio calculation yields the Portfolio Margin Leverage (assuming the Margin Leverage setting is 100%), the Portfolio (N-day, annualized) Expected Return, and the Portfolio Standard Deviation.  This calculation then gives you an estimate of the overall (N-day) performance of the Optimal Portfolio. (Note that the accuracy of the Portfolio Expected Return depends on the accuracy of the N-day Price Projection.)

1.6    Trading and Portfolio Parameters Settings

There are two groups of slider bars in the Trading & Portfolio Parameters dialog box.  These control the settings for the buy/sell signals and the portfolio optimization calculation.  At the bottom of this dialog box is a list box to set the Time Horizon for trading, which sets the time scale for smoothing of the graphs and the buy/sell signals and points.

Time Horizon

This is a list box for setting the Time Horizon, which controls the time scale of smoothing of the Harmonic Oscillator indicators and the resulting buy/sell signals and points.  It also controls the time scale of the N-day smoothing shown on the Main Graph.  The possible values of the Time Horizon are from 1 to 128 days, and this should be thought of as the typical holding period for short-term trading.

Trading Parameters

The left-hand group of two slider bars controls the display of the buy/sell signals.  These buy/sell signals are displayed on scale 4 of the Main Graph.  The buy/sell signals that are actually “triggered” are displayed on scale 8 of the Main Graph.

Threshold:  This slider bar controls the minimum absolute value of the Velocity indicator (annualized return) above which the buy/sell signals can be triggered. On its lowest setting of 20%, the Velocity indicator must have an annualized value of at least 20% gain or loss per year before the buy or sell signals can be triggered. This limits the threshold of the expected future trend at which the buy or sell signals are triggered. On its highest setting of 0%, the buy/sell signals are triggered right on the zero-crossings of the Velocity indicator. So there will be less trading on the lower settings, and more trading on the higher settings.

Range:  This slider bar controls the limit price of the buy/sell signals displayed on the Main Graph, as a percentage of the average absolute deviation of the daily prices (average range of highs/lows relative to the average intra-day price). This range is relative to the N-day smoothing curve on the Main Graph. For the future Price Projection, the range is the percentage of the average expected N-day absolute deviation, as indicated by the error bars in the future Price Projection. On the lowest setting of 200%, the buy/sell signals appear at a distance of 200% of the average (expected) absolute deviation from the N-day smoothing curve. On the highest setting of 0%, the buy/sell signals appear right on the N-day smoothing curve. So there will be less trading on the lower settings, and more trading on the higher settings.

Portfolio Parameters

The right-hand group of two slider bars controls the settings for the Portfolio Optimization calculation.  This calculation uses the estimated expected return and the measured volatility or risk (for each stock in the portfolio) to compute an Optimal Portfolio that maximizes returns and minimizes risk

Margin Leverage:  This specifies the (average) margin leverage that you want for the whole portfolio, given the total equity.  By margin leverage, we mean the amount of money invested in the portfolio as a fraction of the equity.  Then the optimal number of shares of each stock is computed based on the margin leverage.  Generally, due to the way the optimization is performed, the actual margin leverage invested will be a little less than that specified.  It should be equal to that specified if the percentage of equity invested in each stock turned out to be equal.  If a large percentage of the equity were invested in one stock, then the total margin leverage would be substantially less than that specified.  (We view this as beneficial from the point of view of risk reduction.) The range of the margin leverage settings is from 0% to 200%, corresponding to the allowed range in a typical margin account. So the higher the setting is, the more aggressive the trading in the account.

Risk Tolerance:  This is the other parameter in the Portfolio Optimization calculation.  In order to know what relative weight to give to the expected return versus the risk, the portfolio optimization routine needs to know your degree of risk aversion.  The opposite of this is your risk tolerance, which is your willingness to tolerate risk for the sake of greater returns.  Setting the slider on “min” results in the least possible variance in the total portfolio return (risk), at the expense of the mean value of the return (expected returns).  Setting the slider on “max” basically results in the variance of returns (risk) being ignored, and the proportion of the portfolio invested in each stock is essentially proportional to the expected returns alone (relative to the other stocks in the portfolio). So the higher the setting is, the more aggressive the trading in the account.

1.7    Other Features

These are the most important features of QuanTek.  There are many other features as well.  The actual prices are displayed in list form in the Stock Data window.  Some useful Fundamental Data are displayed in the Stock Info form view. The list of stocks, indexes, and other types of files in the currently active Stock Group are shown to the left side of the Main Window in the Portfolio dialog bar.  Double clicking on any one of these entries is a quick way to open that data file.  You can create up to 15 separate portfolios within each Stock Group, consisting of separate positions in each stock and total equity.  These may be selected from the Portfolio menu. You can also switch between black and white background for all graphs and displays, using the Toggle Dark Colors button.  The black is on by default.

1.8    References

[B]       Louis Bachelier, Théorie de la Spéculation (doctorial dissertation),

            Annales Scientifiques de l’Éciole Normale Supérieure (iii),

            Vol.17, pp.21-86 (1900)  Translation: Cootner (1964)


[BD]    Peter J. Brockwell & Richard A. Davis, Time Series: Theory and Methods, 2nd ed.

            Springer-Verlag, New York (1991)


[EM]    Robert D. Edwards & John Magee, Technical Analysis of Stock Trends,

John Magee Inc. (1992)


[Pt1]    Edgar E. Peters, Chaos and Order in the Capital Markets,

            John Wiley & Sons, New York (1991)


[Pt2]    Edgar E. Peters, Fractal Market Analysis,

            John Wiley & Sons, New York (1994)


[Pr]      Martin J. Pring, Technical Analysis Explained, 3rd ed.,

            McGraw-Hill, New York (1991)


[NR]    William H. Press, Saul A. Teukolsky, William T. Vetterling, & Brian Flannery,

Numerical Recipes in C: The Art of Scientific Computing, 2nd ed.,

            Cambridge University Press (1992)