Stock market forces can be modeled with a quantum harmonic oscillator

February 14, 2018 by Lisa Zyga, feature
Credit: Pexels,

Traditionally, a quantum harmonic oscillator model is used to describe the tiny vibrations in a diatomic molecule, but the description is also universal in the sense that it can be extended to a variety of other situations in physics and beyond. One example of this is illustrated in a new study, in which researchers show that the restoring force in a vibrating quantum harmonic oscillator provides a good approximation of the market force that restores a fluctuating stock return to equilibrium.

The researchers, K. Ahn and coauthors, have published a paper on their application of a harmonic oscillator to the dynamics of in a recent issue of EPL.

"We improve modeling of stock return distributions by proposing a quantum harmonic oscillator as a model for the market which draws stock returns from short-run fluctuations to the long-run equilibrium," coauthor Moo Young Choi at Seoul National University told "The well-developed quantum method provides us both an analytical solution to the stock return distribution and insight into the essentials of stock return behaviors."

Over the past several years, it has become more common to analyze the dynamics of stock prices by using quantum physics models, such as those that describe the movement of a trapped particle in a well or a particle undergoing quantum Brownian motion. One advantage of quantum models over traditional ones is that they are often better at incorporating the effects of market conditions on stock returns, which arises from how the quantum models account for the particles' energy levels. This leads to more accurate modeling overall.

In the new study, the researchers focused on modeling a particular market force that has been difficult to capture in previous models. Empirical evidence shows that, when a stock return is fluctuating in the short term, there exists a market force that draws the fluctuating stock return back to its long-run equilibrium. This force is related to the concept of mean reversion, which is the tendency of a stock to return to its average price.

In classical physics, a harmonic oscillator is a system that swings (like a pendulum) away from its equilibrium but has a restoring force that returns it to equilibrium. The quantum analogue, a quantum harmonic oscillator, is also a system that is displaced from equilibrium and has a restoring force, but has some differences compared to the classical system, such as that its energy levels are quantized (discrete).

In their paper, the researchers show that the restoring force in a quantum harmonic oscillator can approximate the market force that returns a fluctuating stock return to equilibrium. By applying their model to seven years of data from the Financial Times Stock Exchange All Share Index (a subset of companies traded on the London Stock Exchange), they show that the quantum harmonic oscillator model outperforms other quantum models.

"The analytical solution explains empirical distributions of stock returns quite well, which distinguishes our model from traditional stock return models," Choi said. "In addition, the interpretation of physics concepts in the context of economics and finance sheds light on the relationship between finance and econophysics literature."

As the researchers explain, the reason why this correspondence between stock returns and quantum physics works is because the market uncertainty (or volatility) corresponds to properties of the quantum wave function and, in particular, the variance of the quantum state. In this framework, the collective trading activities of the investors can be thought of as pressure on the stock prices, and the amount of pressure corresponds to the energy level of an oscillating particle. A higher market uncertainty is equivalent to a higher energy level, but the volatility is limited by the financial equivalent of a high energy threshold. According to the model, the volatility eventually returns to some equilibrium level.

The researchers expect that the ability to accurately model stock market dynamics has potential applications for asset pricing, risk management, and asset allocation purposes. The results here might also be applied to comparing returns in different markets or different types of portfolios, as well as modeling the interest rate in the bond market.

"First, we plan to extend our model to incorporate market-specific properties such as trading friction, by adding an external field or potential on the particle, for example, 10% daily return limit in the Chinese ," Choi said. "Second, the model can be applied to other financial products such as interest rates. Third, we are considering to apply our further to risk management and asset allocation, such as value-at-risk."

Explore further: New study examines relationship between electricity usage and stock market return

More information: K. Ahn et al. "Modeling stock return distributions with a quantum harmonic oscillator." EPL. DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/120/38003

Related Stories

Spurious switching points in traded stock dynamics

May 15, 2012

Physicists have rebuffed the existence of power laws governing the dynamics of traded stock volatility, volume and intertrade times at times of stock price extrema. They did this by demonstrating that what appeared as "switching ...

New paper examines household production and asset prices

March 20, 2015

A new paper by Zhi Da, Viola D. Hank Associate Professor of Finance at the University of Notre Dame, find that residential electricity usage can track household production in real time and helps to price assets.

Recommended for you

The secret to measuring the energy of an antineutrino

June 18, 2018

Scientists study tiny particles called neutrinos to learn about how our universe evolved. These particles, well-known for being tough to detect, could tell the story of how matter won out over antimatter a fraction of a second ...

Quantum transfer at the push of a button

June 15, 2018

In new quantum information technologies, fragile quantum states have to be transferred between distant quantum bits. Researchers at ETH have now realized such a quantum transmission between two solid-state qubits at the push ...

Biological light sensor filmed in action

June 15, 2018

Using X-ray laser technology, a team led by researchers of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI has recorded one of the fastest processes in biology. In doing so, they produced a molecular movie that reveals how the light sensor ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Feb 15, 2018
Is it April already? No connection to the external realities of why share prices go up and down, just twang a quantum string and use that to predict stocks.

1 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2018
It has some meaning in econophysics and dense aether model. The quantum oscillator is represented by elastic string, the mass density of which in each time and space interval remains proportional it's energy density, i.e. the Hamiltonian density of Schrodinger equation. Such an oscillator is difficult to imagine in 1D, but normal foam also behaves in similar way: it gets thick temporarily, once it gets deformed and shaken well at some place. The energy density of stock market is expressed by trade volume and the result means, that the investors are attracted by stocks which are already subject of most intensive trading and highest transaction volumes (in the name of famous proverb: "money attract money"). Of course this gregarious behavior is also source of chaotic behavior and intrinsic instability of stock markets, because it's quite close to panic.
not rated yet Feb 15, 2018
The financial market can be therefore considered as some vague analogy of quantum field. Inside quantum field it's common that the waves bouncing between particles behave like less or more defined particles (solitons i.e. gauge boson) by itself, and when their energy increases, they can also form another generations of gauge bosons exchanging an energy between them - recursively.

The money can be also perceived a form of bosons exchanged between subjects of financial market, as they represent concentrated energy which has been exerted during their production. And when the density of money exchange increases sufficiently, then the money can also form a secondary boson, i.e. monetary derivatives, i.e. the virtual products which are exchanged independently. For example the bill exchange market with bills collected from creditors which can be bought and sold independently of them.
not rated yet Feb 15, 2018
In some quantum field theories (E8 exceptional theory of Lissi Garrett) the gauge bosons can also propagate independently of original particles at the scope of atom nuclei. In dense aether model the space-time forms flat gradient and the time dimension represents the density gradient across it. The wave solitons visualize this gradient for observer of waves in such a way, their scalar (2-spin graviton/dilaton) component can be also considered a concentrated time dimension of space-time. Note that the value of bills is derived from accumulation debt value in time, their value also consist of time dimension concentrated inside them. Virtually all monetary derivatives are based on financial speculation, i.e. extrapolation of their value from past to future across temporal dimension. Therefore the monetary derivatives don't differ very much from composite particles of matter: hadrons and leptons in many aspects of their behavior.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.