Improving financial trading decisions using deep Q-learning: Predicting the number of Shares, action Strategies, and transfer learning

Gyeeun Jeong, Ha Young Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


We study trading systems using reinforcement learning with three newly proposed methods to maximize total profits and reflect real financial market situations while overcoming the limitations of financial data. First, we propose a trading system that can predict the number of shares to trade. Specifically, we design an automated system that predicts the number of shares by adding a deep neural network (DNN) regressor to a deep Q-network, thereby combining reinforcement learning and a DNN. Second, we study various action strategies that use Q-values to analyze which action strategies are beneficial for profits in a confused market. Finally, we propose transfer learning approaches to prevent overfitting from insufficient financial data. We use four different stock indices—the S&P500, KOSPI, HSI, and EuroStoxx50—to experimentally verify our proposed methods and then conduct extensive research. The proposed automated trading system, which enables us to predict the number of shares with the DNN regressor, increases total profits by four times in S&P500, five times in KOSPI, 12 times in HSI, and six times in EuroStoxx50 compared with the fixed-number trading system. When the market situation is confused, delaying the decision to buy or sell increases total profits by 18% in S&P500, 24% in KOSPI, and 49% in EuroStoxx50. Further, transfer learning increases total profits by twofold in S&P500, 3 times in KOSPI, twofold in HSI, and 2.5 times in EuroStoxx50. The trading system with all three proposed methods increases total profits by 13 times in S&P500, 24 times in KOSPI, 30 times in HSI, and 18 times in EuroStoxx50, outperforming the market and the reinforcement learning model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-138
Number of pages14
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Technology Advancement Research Program funded by the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (grant number 17CTAP-C129782-01).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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