Free-Boundary Problems

  • You-lan Zhu
  • Xiaonan Wu
  • I-Liang Chern
Part of the Springer Finance book series (FINANCE)


As we know, a problem of pricing an American-style derivative can be formulated as a linear complementarity problem, and for most cases, it can also be written as a free-boundary problem. In Chapter 6, we have discussed how to solve a linear complementarity problem. Here, we study how to solve a free-boundary problem numerically. Many derivative security problems have a final condition with discontinuous derivatives at some point. In this case, their solutions are not very smooth in the domain near this point, and their numerical solutions will have relatively large error. In Chapter 6, we have suggested to deal with this problem in the following way: instead of calculating the price of the derivative security, a difference between the price and an expression with the same or almost the same weak singularity is solved numerically. Because the difference is smooth, the error of numerical solution will be smaller. This method can still be used for free-boundary problems. For them there is another problem. On one side of the free boundary, the price of an American-style derivative satisfies a partial differential equation, and on the other side, it is equal to a given function. Because of this, the second derivative of the price is usually discontinuous on the free boundary. If we can follow the free boundary and use the partial differential equation only on the domain where the equation holds, then we can have less error. Hence, in Section 7.1 we not only discuss how to separate the weak singularity caused by the discontinuous first derivative at expiry but also describe how to convert a free-boundary problem into a problem defined on a rectangular domain so that we can easily use the partial differential equation only on the domain where the equation holds. The method described in Section 7.1 is referred to as the singularity-separating method (SSM) for free-boundary problems. The next two sections are devoted to discussing how to solve this problem using implicit schemes and pseudo-spectral methods for one-dimensional and two-dimensional cases. There, we also give some results on American vanilla, barrier, Asian, and lookback options, two-factor American vanilla options, and two-factor convertible bonds.


Free Boundary Linear Complementarity Problem Call Option Rectangular Domain Barrier Option 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • You-lan Zhu
    • 1
  • Xiaonan Wu
    • 2
  • I-Liang Chern
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon Tong, Hong KongChina
  3. 3.Department of MathematicsNational Taiwan UniversityTaipei, TaiwanChina

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