Currency Trader Magazine, November: Time Filtering Moving Average Systems

This month I have published a new article on Currency Trader Magazine which discusses the use of time filtering in order to improve a simple moving average technique. However the idea of this article was not simply to show that introducing additional degrees of freedom can enhance the historical performance of a trading strategy with optimization (an almost certainty) but that careful choosing of “time blocks” can lead to enhanced performance for trading systems with a reduced risk of curve fitting. On today’s blog post I want to talk a little bit more about this November article, why I believe it gives some very useful conclusions and what the next steps to continue this research are going to be. I would also  like to discuss how this relates to Qallaryi and Asirikuy trading system design. As always you can download this article for free (only on Nov and Dec 2012) by following this link.

First of all let me say that the idea of time filtering – trading only within a fixed set of market hours – isn’t something new. In Asirikuy we have used systems with time filtering for more than 2 years and even moving average cross systems with time filtering – as suggested by Franco – were implemented in Asirikuy in the form of Qallaryi. However up until now it had been problematic to properly back-test Qallaryi – because the initial F3 system code had some problems – and it is only up until now that this strategy can truly be evaluated in a more reliable fashion. Thanks to the Asirikuy F4 framework it is now possible to evaluate Qallaryi properly and start studying how time filtering actually affects a trading strategy.

The main problem with time filtering comes when you realize that it introduces 24 new degrees of freedom that lead to an instant possibility for curve fitting. If I optimize a strategy with all this freedom, the result is usually a system that trades in a very spotty manner (for example trade at hour zero and not at 1, then at 2 and 4 but not at 3, etc). This spotty assignment of trading hours comes from the filtering of bad trades in the historical data that leads to a very strong curve fitting of the strategy. Time filtering without a reason leads to an excessive adaptation of a strategy to the particular quirks of the historical data it is being optimized on. In my mind there shouldn’t be reason why time filtering must be a “bad idea” only that it needs to be applied in a way that makes sense (not “brute forced” into a strategy).

Franco had initially made the suggestion to try to only trade crosses that happen when there are significant increases in volatility – such as market opening times – but I quickly found out that this lead to bad trading results because crosses that happen within these hours generally do not predict a continuation. When surges in volatility generate the cross, the “big part” of the move has already been exhausted in the initial movement. The trick was then to take the entirely opposite approach and filter time zones that are not widely known for their big increases in volatility. The filtering of these time blocks and the explicit evaluation of the removal of a market opening hour, leads to some very interesting conclusions (which you can read on the CT article).

In general this article attempts to show that time filtering can be a very valuable tool to improve trading systems provided that it is implemented in a way that obeys some good rationale. Implementing time filtering by strict optimization seems to be a bad idea – can easily lead to curve fitting – so a good level of intervention in assigning blocks and avoiding “spotty hour behaviour” is fundamental to arrive at more robust trading results. If you would like to learn more about trading systems and how you too can learn to design trading strategies   please consider joining, a website filled with educational videos, trading systems, development and a sound, honest and transparent approach towards automated trading in general . I hope you enjoyed this article ! :o)

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3 Responses to “Currency Trader Magazine, November: Time Filtering Moving Average Systems”

  1. Franco says:

    Hey Daniel,

    Glad you are investigating this. I also tried to do further research at the beginning of the year if you could remember the thread on the forum but I soon lost interest due to the robustness topic that took over.

    Time filtering I believe is definitely a resource that we yet have to fully exploit. People shape markets and people are time driven thus the markets should be as well.

  2. alex says:

    time filters? you must be joking. very bad ideea from my perspective. a good trading system is an universal trading system. a system which works on any timeframe, any date and any instrument. that’s were the search should be.

    • admin says:

      Hi Alex,

      Thank you for your post :o) Well time filters – as Franco mentioned – can make sense because the markets have marked timing differences, the European, American and Asian sessions have different characteristics that can be studied and exploited. For intra-day systems this gives an additional point to exploit. Sure, universal systems are also an interesting subject of research but you’ll notice that universal trading has a serious price in the form of extended draw-down cycles and very hard trading – from a psychological point of view – due to the way in which these systems operate. Many subjects are interesting and, to be profitable, we must research as many as we can in as much depth as possible. Time filtering is just a finding to improve intra-day strategies, nothing less and nothing more :o) Thanks again for posting,

      Best regards,


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