Numerical Methods for Nonlinear Equations in Option Pricing
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This thesis explores numerical methods for solving nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs) that arise in option pricing problems. The goal is to develop or identify robust and efficient techniques that converge to the financially relevant solution for both one and two factor problems. To illustrate the underlying concepts, two nonlinear models are examined in detail: uncertain volatility and passport options. For any nonlinear model, implicit timestepping techniques lead to a set of discrete nonlinear equations which must be solved at each timestep. Several iterative methods for solving these equations are tested. In the cases of uncertain volatility and passport options, it is shown that the frozen coefficient method outperforms two different Newton-type methods. Further, it is proven that the frozen coefficient method is guaranteed to converge for a wide class of one factor problems. A major issue when solving nonlinear PDEs is the possibility of multiple solutions. In a financial context, convergence to the viscosity solution is desired. Conditions under which the one factor uncertain volatility equations are guaranteed to converge to the viscosity solution are derived. Unfortunately, the techniques used do not apply to passport options, primarily because a positive coefficient discretization is shown to not always be achievable. For both uncertain volatility and passport options, much work has already been done for one factor problems. In this thesis, extensions are made for two factor problems. The importance of treating derivative estimates consistently between the discretization and an optimization procedure is discussed. For option pricing problems in general, non-smooth data can cause convergence difficulties for classical timestepping techniques. In particular, quadratic convergence may not be achieved. Techniques for restoring quadratic convergence for linear problems are examined. Via numerical examples, these techniques are also shown to improve the stability of the nonlinear uncertain volatility and passport option problems. Finally, two applications are briefly explored. The first application involves static hedging to reduce the bid-ask spread implied by uncertain volatility pricing. While static hedging has been carried out previously for one factor models, examples for two factor models are provided. The second application uses passport option theory to examine trader compensation strategies. By changing the payoff, it is shown how the expected distribution of trading account balances can be modified to reflect trader or bank preferences.