Option pricing, stochastic volatility, singular dynamics and constrained path integrals

Mauricio Contreras, Sergio A. Hojman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Stochastic volatility models have been widely studied and used in the financial world. The Heston model (Heston, 1993) [7] is one of the best known models to deal with this issue. These stochastic volatility models are characterized by the fact that they explicitly depend on a correlation parameter ρ which relates the two Brownian motions that drive the stochastic dynamics associated to the volatility and the underlying asset. Solutions to the Heston model in the context of option pricing, using a path integral approach, are found in Lemmens et al. (2008) [21] while in Baaquie (2007,1997) [12,13] propagators for different stochastic volatility models are constructed. In all previous cases, the propagator is not defined for extreme cases ρ=±1. It is therefore necessary to obtain a solution for these extreme cases and also to understand the origin of the divergence of the propagator. In this paper we study in detail a general class of stochastic volatility models for extreme values ρ=±1 and show that in these two cases, the associated classical dynamics corresponds to a system with second class constraints, which must be dealt with using Dirac's method for constrained systems (Dirac, 1958,1967) [22,23] in order to properly obtain the propagator in the form of a Euclidean Hamiltonian path integral (Henneaux and Teitelboim, 1992) [25]. After integrating over momenta, one gets an Euclidean Lagrangian path integral without constraints, which in the case of the Heston model corresponds to a path integral of a repulsive radial harmonic oscillator. In all the cases studied, the price of the underlying asset is completely determined by one of the second class constraints in terms of volatility and plays no active role in the path integral.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-403
Number of pages13
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Constrained Hamiltonian path integrals
  • Dirac's method
  • Option pricing
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Singular Lagrangian systems
  • Stochastic volatility


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