Explicit Density Approximations for Local Volatility Models Using Heat Kernel Expansions

Stephen Taylor, Scott Glasgow, James Taylor, Jan Vecer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heat kernel perturbation theory is a tool for constructing explicit approximation formulas for the solutions of linear parabolic equations. We review the crux of this perturbative formalism and then apply it to differential equations which govern the transition densities of several local volatility processes. In particular, we compute all the heat kernel coefficients for the CEV and quadratic local volatility models; in the later case, we are able to use these to construct an exact explicit formula for the processes’ transition density. We then derive low order approximation formulas for the cubic local volatility model, an affine-affine short rate model, and a generalized mean reverting CEV model. We finally demonstrate that the approximation formulas are accurate in certain model parameter regimes via comparison to Monte Carlo simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-867
Number of pages21
JournalMethodology and Computing in Applied Probability
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • General Mathematics


  • CEV model
  • Heat kernel expansion
  • Local volatility
  • Short rate models


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