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Some time ago Almgren and Chriss proposed a method for portfolio optimization based on sorting criteria such as $r_1 > r_2 >... > r_N$ instead of explicit expected returns: see portfolios from sorts and optimal portfolios from ordering information.

The 'portfolio of sorts' approach uses the centroid of the sort instead of returns, but otherwise has the same structure as a mean variance optimization, i.e. a linear program with quadratic constraints.

Is this approach used in practice, and if so, can anybody share their experience with it?

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Thanks for bringing this to our attention. The approach is very interesting. (PS - I fixed a bad link to the second paper.) –  pteetor Dec 10 '13 at 19:52
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