Binomial Pricing Trees in R

Binomial Tree Simulation

The binomial model is a discrete grid generation method from \(t=0\) to \(T\). At each point in time (\(t+\Delta t\)) we can move up with probability \(p\) and down with probability \((1-p)\). As the probability of an up and down movement remain constant throughout the generation process, we end up with a recombining binary tree, or binary lattice. Whereas a balanced binomial tree with height \(h\) has \(2^{h+1}-1\) nodes, a binomial lattice of height \(h\) has \(\sum_{i=1}^{h}i\) nodes.

The algorithm to generate a binomial lattice of \(M\) steps (i.e. of height \(M\)) given a starting value \(S_0\), an up movement \(u\), and down movement \(d\), is:

FOR i=1 to M
FOR j=0 to i
STATE S(j,i) = S(0)*u^j*d^(n-j)

We can write this function in R and generate a graph of the lattice. A simple lattice generation function is below:

# Generate a binomial lattice
# for a given up, down, start value and number of steps
genlattice <- function(X0=100, u=1.1, d=.75, N=5) {
X <- c()
X[1] <- X0
count <- 2

for (i in 1:N) {
 for (j in 0:i) {
  X[count] <- X0 * u^j * d^(i-j)
  count <- count + 1

We can generate a sample lattice of 5 steps using symmetric up-and-down values:

> genlattice(N=5, u=1.1, d=.9)
 [1] 100.000  90.000 110.000  81.000  99.000 121.000  72.900  89.100 108.900 133.100  65.610
[12]  80.190  98.010 119.790 146.410  59.049  72.171  88.209 107.811 131.769 161.051

In this case, the output is a vector of alternate up and down state values.

We can nicely graph a binomial lattice given a tool like graphviz, and we can easily create an R function to generate a graph specification that we can feed into graphviz:

function(S, labels=FALSE) {
    shape <- ifelse(labels == TRUE, "plaintext", "point")
    cat("digraph G {", "\n", sep="")
    cat("node[shape=",shape,", samehead, sametail];","\n", sep="")
    # Create a dot node for each element in the lattice
    for (i in 1:length(S)) {
        cat("node", i, "[label=\"", S[i], "\"];", "\n", sep="")
    # The number of levels in a binomial lattice of length N
    # is `$\frac{\sqrt{8N+1}-1}{2}$`
    L <- ((sqrt(8*length(S)+1)-1)/2 - 1)
    for (i in 1:L) {
        tabs <- rep("\t",i-1)
        j <- i
        while(j>0) {
            k <- k + 1
            j <- j - 1
    cat("}", sep="")

This will simply output a dot script to the screen. We can capture this script and save it to a file by invoking:

> x<-capture.output(dotlattice(genlattice(N=8, u=1.1, d=0.9)))
> cat(x, file="/tmp/")

We can then invoke dot from the command-line on the generated file:

$ dot -Tpng -o lattice.png -v 

The resulting graph looks like the following:

Binomial Lattice

Binomial Lattice (no labels)

If we want to add labels to the lattice vertices, we can add the labels attribute:

> x<-capture.output(dotlattice(genlattice(N=8, u=1.1, d=0.9), labels=TRUE))
> cat(x, file="/tmp/")
Lattice (labels)

Binomial Lattice (labels)