Variability Weighted Return (or VWR)

Following some hints about an improved SharpeRatio, backtrader has added this analyzer to its arsenal.

The literature is at:

Starting with the benefits of logarithmic returns and following on the side effects of having the standard deviation in the denominator of the SharpeRatio equation, the document develops the formula and expectations of this analyzer.

One of the most important properties may be:

  • A consistent value across timeframes

The SharpeRatio uses the arithmetic mean of excess returns versus a risk free rate/asset divided by the standard deviation of the excess returns versus the risk free rate/asset. This makes the final value dependent on the number of samples and the standard deviation which could even be 0. In this case the SharpeRatio would be infinite.

backtrader includes a sample for testing the SharpeRatio using the sample data which includes prices for 2005 and 2006. The returned values for different timeframes:

  • TimeFrame.Years: 11.6473

  • TimeFrame.Months: 0.5425

  • TimeFrame.Weeks: 0.457

  • TimeFrame.Days: 0.4274


For consistency the ratio is annualized. The sharpe-timereturn sample and is executed with:

--annualize --timeframe xxx

Where xxx stands for days, weeks, months or years (default)

In this sample there is something clear:

  • The smaller the timeframe, the smaller the value of the SharpeRatio

Which is caused by the number of samples which is larger for the smaller timeframes and adds variability and hence increases the standard deviation, which is the denominator in the SharpeRatio equation.

There is a large sensibility to changes in the standard deviation

It is exactly this what the VWR tries to solved by offering a consistent value across timeframes. The same strategy offers the following values:

  • TimeFrame.Years: 1.5368

  • TimeFrame.Months: 1.5163

  • TimeFrame.Weeks: 1.5383

  • TimeFrame.Days: 1.5221


The VWR is returned (following the literature) always in annualized form. The sample is executed with:

--timeframe xxx

Where xxx stands for days, weeks, months or years

The default is None which uses the underlying timeframe of the data which is days

Consistent values which show that the performance of the strategy when it comes to offering consistent returns can be evaluated on any timeframe.


Theoretically the values should be the same, but this would require fine tuning the tann parameters (number of periods for annualization) to the exact trading periods. This is not done here, because the purpose is just looking at consistency.


A new tool which offers a timeframe independent approach to strategy evaluation is available for the users

Sample Usage

$ ./ --help
usage: [-h] [--data DATA] [--cash CASH] [--fromdate FROMDATE]
              [--todate TODATE] [--writercsv]
              [--tframe {weeks,months,days,years}] [--sigma-max SIGMA_MAX]
              [--tau TAU] [--tann TANN] [--stddev-sample] [--plot [kwargs]]

TimeReturns and VWR

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --data DATA, -d DATA  data to add to the system (default:
  --cash CASH           Starting Cash (default: None)
  --fromdate FROMDATE, -f FROMDATE
                        Starting date in YYYY-MM-DD format (default: None)
  --todate TODATE, -t TODATE
                        Starting date in YYYY-MM-DD format (default: None)
  --writercsv, -wcsv    Tell the writer to produce a csv stream (default:
  --tframe {weeks,months,days,years}, --timeframe {weeks,months,days,years}
                        TimeFrame for the Returns/Sharpe calculations
                        (default: None)
  --sigma-max SIGMA_MAX
                        VWR Sigma Max (default: None)
  --tau TAU             VWR tau factor (default: None)
  --tann TANN           Annualization factor (default: None)
  --stddev-sample       Consider Bessels correction for stddeviation (default:
  --plot [kwargs], -p [kwargs]
                        Plot the read data applying any kwargs passed For
                        example: --plot style="candle" (to plot candles)
                        (default: None)

Sample Code

from __future__ import (absolute_import, division, print_function,

import argparse
import datetime

import backtrader as bt

TFRAMES = dict(

def runstrat(pargs=None):
    args = parse_args(pargs)

    # Create a cerebro
    cerebro = bt.Cerebro()

    if is not None:

    dkwargs = dict()
    # Get the dates from the args
    if args.fromdate is not None:
        fromdate = datetime.datetime.strptime(args.fromdate, '%Y-%m-%d')
        dkwargs['fromdate'] = fromdate
    if args.todate is not None:
        todate = datetime.datetime.strptime(args.todate, '%Y-%m-%d')
        dkwargs['todate'] = todate

    # Create the 1st data
    data = bt.feeds.BacktraderCSVData(, **dkwargs)
    cerebro.adddata(data)  # Add the data to cerebro

    cerebro.addstrategy(bt.strategies.SMA_CrossOver)  # Add the strategy

    lrkwargs = dict()
    if args.tframe is not None:
        lrkwargs['timeframe'] = TFRAMES[args.tframe]

    if args.tann is not None:
        lrkwargs['tann'] = args.tann

    cerebro.addanalyzer(bt.analyzers.Returns, **lrkwargs)  # Returns

    vwrkwargs = dict()
    if args.tframe is not None:
        vwrkwargs['timeframe'] = TFRAMES[args.tframe]

    if args.tann is not None:
        vwrkwargs['tann'] = args.tann

    if args.sigma_max is not None:
        vwrkwargs['sigma_max'] = args.sigma_max

    if args.tau is not None:
        vwrkwargs['tau'] = args.tau

    cerebro.addanalyzer(bt.analyzers.VWR, **vwrkwargs)  # VWR Analyzer

    # Add a writer to get output
    cerebro.addwriter(bt.WriterFile, csv=args.writercsv, rounding=4)  # And run it

    # Plot if requested
    if args.plot:
        pkwargs = dict(style='bar')
        if args.plot is not True:  # evals to True but is not True
            npkwargs = eval('dict(' + args.plot + ')')  # args were passed


def parse_args(pargs=None):
    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(
        description='TimeReturns and SharpeRatio')

    parser.add_argument('--data', '-d',
                        help='data to add to the system')

    parser.add_argument('--cash', default=None, type=float, required=False,
                        help='Starting Cash')

    parser.add_argument('--fromdate', '-f',
                        help='Starting date in YYYY-MM-DD format')

    parser.add_argument('--todate', '-t',
                        help='Starting date in YYYY-MM-DD format')

    parser.add_argument('--writercsv', '-wcsv', action='store_true',
                        help='Tell the writer to produce a csv stream')

    parser.add_argument('--tframe', '--timeframe', default=None,
                        required=False, choices=TFRAMES.keys(),
                        help='TimeFrame for the Returns/Sharpe calculations')

    parser.add_argument('--sigma-max', required=False, action='store',
                        type=float, default=None,
                        help='VWR Sigma Max')

    parser.add_argument('--tau', required=False, action='store',
                        type=float, default=None,
                        help='VWR tau factor')

    parser.add_argument('--tann', required=False, action='store',
                        type=float, default=None,
                        help=('Annualization factor'))

    parser.add_argument('--stddev-sample', required=False, action='store_true',
                        help='Consider Bessels correction for stddeviation')

    # Plot options
    parser.add_argument('--plot', '-p', nargs='?', required=False,
                        metavar='kwargs', const=True,
                        help=('Plot the read data applying any kwargs passed\n'
                              'For example:\n'
                              '  --plot style="candle" (to plot candles)\n'))

    if pargs is not None:
        return parser.parse_args(pargs)

    return parser.parse_args()

if __name__ == '__main__':