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Is back testing a waste of time?
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Is back testing a waste of time?

  #11 (permalink)
Trading for Fun
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in my opinion, back testing, optimization and real time simulated testing are the best tools you have available to put together an automated strategy that does make more money than it loses.

the first part of my advice to you would be that you learned how to optimize the settings for the parameters in your strategies, as it is apparent you do not know how to do that. all the most popular trading platforms offer optimization engines, learn how to use them for the particular platform you happen to be using (there are even video tutorials availble on the internet). make sure to include realistic and even exaggerated values for commissions and slippage which all will be going against you all the time.

if your strategies lose more money than they make even when all the parameters have been optimized, you can be sure they will never work and it would be a waste of time to continue trying to develop them.

second, maybe the most advantageous thing you can do to determine if your strategies are winners or not is to optimize them always leaving a sizable period of time out of sample. optimize the parameters in your strategies over long enough periods of time (4 years or more), so that, ideally, your strategies will be tested on all kinds of market conditions; uptrends, downtrends and flat / ranging periods. leaving an extended period of time out of sample means that you would never optimize your strategies to the present day and consider those results to be overly credible, always optimize up to 6 - 12 months ago. once you have optimized your strategies, let's say, to 12 months ago and they made money up to that point, and then you included the latest 12 months of market data keeping the same values for your parameters and your strategies still turned a profit consistently over that period, then you can be certain you have a winner.

the next step would be to test your strategies for a number of weeks as they make trades in real time on a simulated account. if any of your strategies makes more than it loses over all these tests (remember to always use realistic / exaggerated values for total commissions and slippage when evaluating simulated results), you can be certain that as long as the market keeps moving in fairly similar patterns as it has done in the past you could make real money going forward.

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  #12 (permalink)
Trading Apprentice
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JonnyBoy View Post
One suggestion is you parcel out your back test data. For example, let’s say you have 18 months of data you can back test against - split that into 3 parcels of data. You should then look to exclude an entire parcel from ever being back tested against with your system. Then optimise your setup on the 2 parcels of data you have. Human nature says that you will curve fit to the 2 parcels of data.

When you believe the system is the best you will ever get it, proceed to back test it against the parcel of data you have kept in reserve. That is a good way to avoid curve fitting to your entire back test catalogue of data.

I would say back testing is not a waste of time as it can eliminate some very bad systems very quickly.

thanks for the advice I will look into testing with this approach as I think the problem I have been having is only backtesting and not doing any out of sample testing / walk forward.

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  #13 (permalink)
Every Day I'm a n00b
San Tan Valley, AZ/USA
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Use BT as an out of sample developmental tool.

Then forward test, live.


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