Optimal Stopping with Applications

Course content

The theory of optimal stopping is concerned with the problem of choosing a time to take a particular action. Some applications are:

  • The valuation/pricing of financial products/contracts, where the holder has the right to exercise the contract at any time before the date of expiration is equivalent  to solving optimal stopping problems. Examples:
    1. American options in finance
    2. Surrender options in life insurance
    3. Prepayment of mortage loans
  • In financial engineering, where the problem is to determine an optimal time to sell an asset. Examples:
    1. Optimal prediction problem, to sell the asset when the price is, or close to, the ultimate maximum.
    2. Mean-variance stopping problem, to sell the asset so as to maximise the return and to minimise the risk. 
  • In mathematical statistics, where the sample size is unknown. Examples:
    1. Sequential hypothesis testing.
    2. Quickest detection problems in technical analysis of financial data.


The content of the course.

Optimal stopping:

  • Definitions
  • General theory
  • Methods of solutions and numerical methods


Areas of applications:

  • Pricing financial products with exercise feature in mathematical finance or life insurance
  • Financial engineering
  • Mathematical statistics



MSc Programme in Actuarial Mathematics

MSc Programme in Mathematics-Economics

Learning outcome


Optimal stopping theory and applications to finance or life insurance



At the end of the course, the students are expected to be able to

  • Apply general theory of optimal stopping
  • Apply methods for solutions of examples of optimal stopping
  • Pricing American derivatives 
  • Apply optimal stopping methods in mathematical statistics



To make the student operational and to give the student knowledge in applications of optimal stopping in finance or life insurance


4 hours of lectures per week for 7 weeks

Book and articles

Continuous time finance

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Identical to NMAK16015U Optimal Stopping with Applications.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

There will be provided feedback during the course based on exercises at the lectures.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
Type of assessment details
20-minute oral exam without time for preparation
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.

As the ordinary exam. 

Criteria for exam assessment

The student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Intended learning outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 177
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
No limit
Study Board of Mathematics and Computer Science
Contracting department
  • Department of Mathematical Sciences
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Jesper Lund Pedersen   (6-736e7c796e7b49766a7d7137747e376d74)
Saved on the 06-06-2023

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