# Is optimising for the Final Wealth is the same as optimising log of growth rate in Kelly Criterion?

A direct, brute force approach could be used to find the Optimal Portfolio.

Consider simple play. There's a biased coin with 55% probability of win. The simulator play as a single person with 100$playing N = 1000 continuous games. Simulator tries all the possible betting fractions, and the one with the max win is chosen as optimal betting fraction. $$\max_{fraction} W = \max_{fraction} \prod_{i=1..N}R_{i}$$ What worries me is that as the Wikipedia says Kelly Criterion optimises logarithm of growth, while this brute force simulation optimize the final amount of money: The Kelly bet size is found by maximizing the expected value of the logarithm of wealth, which is equivalent to maximizing the expected geometric growth rate. But, I believe it's the same thing. Kelly Criterion tries to optimise the average rate of growth $$R_{average} = W^{1/n} = (\prod_{i = 1..n}R_{i})^{1/n} = {1\over n} \sum_{i = 1..n}log(R_{i})$$ So, the difference between brute force and Kelly is $$\max_{fraction} W \space \space \space \space \space vs. \space \space \space \max_{fraction} R_{average}$$ But, it should be the same thing, right? The parameters (the betting fraction) to optimise $$W^{1/n}$$ should be the same as to optimise $$W$$. # The Kelly Solution $$fraction = {p(b+1)-1 \over b} = {0.55(1+1) - 1 \over 1} = 0.1$$ The solution from the simulation is 0.11 # The code Results risky play with 0.9 fraction won 0 safe play with 0.05 fraction won 5756.17 optimal play with 0.11 fraction won 27601.98  Run and see it in action // Biased coint with 55% probability of win, generated separately // because I don't trust built-in random generator in JavaScript. const tosses = [1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0] // Playing with 100$
const play = (fraction) => {
let money = 100
for (const toss of tosses) {
// Win when toss == true
money = toss == 1 ? money + money * fraction : money - money * fraction
}
return round(money)
}

// Playing two simple strategies
// - risky - always bet 0.9
// - safe - always bet 0.05
println(risky play with ${0.9} fraction won${play(0.9)})
println(safe play with ${0.05} fraction won${play(0.05)})

// Searching for optimal fraction
let max_win = 0, optimal_fraction = undefined
for (let fraction = 0.01; fraction <= 0.9; fraction += 0.01) {
const win = play(fraction)

// Optimization criteria - maximum win after N plays
const is_better = win > max_win

if (is_better) {
max_win = win
optimal_fraction = fraction
}
}

println(optimal play with ${round(optimal_fraction)} fraction won${max_win})

function println(msg) {
console.log(msg)
}

function round(v) { return Math.round(v * 100) / 100 }


# UPDATE

Code for classical Kelly Criterion, with the logarithm, playground

I guess I know why the logarithm is preferred. It's more computationally stable and won't overflow numbers with exponential growth. And the logarithm is kinda more smooth and easier to work with than raw growth.

// Biased coint with 55% probability of win, generated separately
// because I don't trust built-in random generator in JavaScript.
const tosses = [1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0]

// Playing with 100$const play = (fraction) => { let sum_ln = 0 for (const toss of tosses) { // Win when toss == true let rate = toss == 1 ? (1 + fraction) : (1 - fraction) sum_ln += Math.log(rate) } return sum_ln / tosses.length } // Playing two simple strategies // - risky - always bet 0.9 // - safe - always bet 0.05 println(risky play with${0.9} fraction won ${play(0.9)}) println(safe play with${0.05} fraction won ${play(0.05)}) // Searching for optimal fraction let max_win = 0, optimal_fraction = undefined for (let fraction = 0.01; fraction <= 0.9; fraction += 0.01) { const win = play(fraction) // Optimization criteria - maximum win after N plays const is_better = win > max_win if (is_better) { max_win = win optimal_fraction = fraction } } println(optimal play with${round(optimal_fraction)} fraction won \${max_win})

function println(msg) {
console.log(msg)
}

function round(v) { return Math.round(v * 100) / 100 }

• Take a look at this. Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 9:47
• The advantage of saying "optimizing log of growth rate" is that you do not have to specify the time horizon. If you say "optimizing the final wealth at time T" then you have to specify the time horizon T. Is it 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? If it does not matter, the first way is simpler. Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 10:32

As you suspect, you have a mistake. You say that:

$$R_{average} = W^{1/n} = (\prod_{i = 1..n}R_{i})^{1/n} = {1\over n} \sum_{i = 1..n}log(R_{i}).$$

Notice that you took a log and kept the equation sign. What you really meant is

$$\log R_{average} = {1\over n} \sum_{i = 1..n}log(R_{i}).$$ So you don't really compare

$$\max_{f} W \space \space \space \space \space vs. \space \space \space \max_{f} R_{average},$$

but rather $$\max_{f} W \space \space \space \space \space vs. \space \space \space \max_{f} \log R_{average}= \frac 1 n \max_{f} \log W.$$

Finally, what confuses you is that

But, it should be the same thing, right? The parameters (the betting fraction) to optimise $$W^{1/n}$$ should be the same as to optimise $$W$$.

Remember that when you optimize, you care about $$\mathbb E[W]$$. You see, $$\text{argmax}_f \mathbb{E}[W] \neq \text{argmax}_f \mathbb{E}[\log W]$$.

• argmax(W) is equal to argmax(log W), this equality is widely used in log likelihood optimization, see also eg. stats.stackexchange.com/a/299624 Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 11:34
• You probably mean that applying monotone function does not change the arg max, not necessarily about log. I wrote it a bit sloppy earlier, I edited it now. In this case here, we first apply log and then take expectation. I hope it's clearer now. Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 18:39

could be used to find the Optimal Portfolio

I believe you will get a bad fit, because you are underestimating rare events, because they are rare in the data.

To see for yourself the influence of this, remove the most extreme returns in your data, and re-run your analyses, and compare to the results from before. A lot of change should give you a hint of the dangers.

I tried to do this "direct fitting" also, and I found the law of large numbers does not apply to market returns, and Kelly does not give you an optimal portfolio if you do not give it correct probabilities.

See my gained wisdom here. Read everything Taleb has to say here.