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Exact and Heuristic Approaches for the Index Tracking Problem with UCITS Constraints


  • Andrea Scozzari


  • Fabio Tardella


  • Sandra Paterlini


  • Thiemo Krink



Index tracking aims at determining an optimal portfolio that replicates the performance of an index or benchmark by investing in a smaller number of constituents or assets. The tracking portfolio should be cheap to maintain and update, i.e., invest in a smaller number of constituents than the index, have low turnover and low transaction costs, and should avoid large positions in few assets, as required by the European Union Directive UCITS (Undertaking for Collective Investments in Transferable Securities) rules. The UCITS rules make the problem hard to be satisfactorily modeled and solved to optimality: no exact methods but only heuristics have been proposed so far. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, we present the first Mixed Integer Quadratic Programming (MIQP) formulation for the constrained index tracking problem with the UCITS rules compliance. This allows us to obtain exact solutions for small- and medium-size problems based on real-world datasets. Second, we compare these solutions with the ones provided by the state-of-art heuristic Di_erential Evolution and Combinatorial Search for Index Tracking (DECS-IT), obtaining information about the heuristic performance and its reliability for the solution of large-size problems that cannot be solved with the exact approach. Empirical results show that DECS-IT is indeed appropriate to tackle the index tracking problem in such cases. Furthermore, we propose a method that combines the good characteristics of the exact and of the heuristic approaches.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Scozzari & Fabio Tardella & Sandra Paterlini & Thiemo Krink, 2012. "Exact and Heuristic Approaches for the Index Tracking Problem with UCITS Constraints," Department of Economics 0685, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
  • Handle: RePEc:mod:depeco:0685

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Diana Barro & Elio Canestrelli, 2009. "Tracking error: a multistage portfolio model," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 165(1), pages 47-66, January.
    2. Beasley, J. E. & Meade, N. & Chang, T. -J., 2003. "An evolutionary heuristic for the index tracking problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 621-643, August.
    3. Canakgoz, N.A. & Beasley, J.E., 2009. "Mixed-integer programming approaches for index tracking and enhanced indexation," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 196(1), pages 384-399, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andriosopoulos, Kostas & Doumpos, Michael & Papapostolou, Nikos C. & Pouliasis, Panos K., 2013. "Portfolio optimization and index tracking for the shipping stock and freight markets using evolutionary algorithms," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 16-34.
    2. C. A. Valle & J. E. Beasley, 2019. "A nonlinear optimisation model for constructing minimal drawdown portfolios," Papers 1908.08684,
    3. Renato Bruni & Francesco Cesarone & Andrea Scozzari & Fabio Tardella, 2013. "No arbitrage and a linear portfolio selection model," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(2), pages 1247-1258.
    4. Renato Bruni & Francesco Cesarone & Andrea Scozzari & Fabio Tardella, 2012. "A new stochastic dominance approach to enhanced index tracking problems," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(4), pages 3460-3470.
    5. Renato Bruni & Francesco Cesarone & Andrea Scozzari & Fabio Tardella, 2012. "A New Lp Model For Enhanced Indexation," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0168, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
    6. Leonardo Riegel Sant’Anna & Tiago Pascoal Filomena & Pablo Cristini Guedes & Denis Borenstein, 2017. "Index tracking with controlled number of assets using a hybrid heuristic combining genetic algorithm and non-linear programming," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 258(2), pages 849-867, November.

    More about this item


    Index tracking; mixed integer quadratic programming; stochastic search heuristics; differential evolution; cardinality constraints;

    JEL classification:

    • C15 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Statistical Simulation Methods: General
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions


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