Tag Archives: Gumbel

How old is the oldest person you know?

Last week, we had a discussion with some colleagues about the fact that – in order to prepare for the SOA exams – we did not have time (so far) to mention results on extreme values in our actuarial program. I did gave an introduction in my nonlife actuarial models class, but it was only an introduction, in three hours, in order to illustrate reinsurance pricing. And I told my students that if they wanted to know more about extreme values, they should start a master program in actuarial science and finance, since I will give a course on extremes (and copulas) next winter.

But actually, extreme values are everywhere ! For instance, there is a Prudential TV commercial where has people place large, round stickers on a number line to represent the age of the oldest person they know. This forms some kind of histogram. The message is to have Prudential prepare you to have adequate money for all these years. And actually, anyone can add his or her own sticker at the Prudential website.

Patrick Honner, on his blog (http://mrhonner.com/…), did mention this interesting representation. But this idea is not new, as mentioned in a post, published three years ago. In 1932, Emil Gumbel gave a talk in France on the “âge limite“. And as he wrote it “on peut donc supposer que la distribution de l’âge limite – c’est à dire la probabilité que cet âge ait une valeur donnée – soit Gaussienne“. In 1932 (not aware of Fisher and Tippett work, he thought that the limiting distribution for a maximum would be Gaussian). But a few years after, he read about Fisher’s work, and observed also that “la distribution d’une valeur extrêmes peut être représentée pour un nombre suffisant d’observations par la formule doublement exponentielle, pourvu que la distribution initiale se comporte asymptotiquement comme une exponentielle. La formule devient rigoureuse si la distribution initiale est exponentielle“, as he wrote in 1935. And in 1937, he wrote a paper on “les centennaires” that can also be related to the work of Bortkiewicz on rare events. One should also mention one of the most important paper in extreme value theory, published in 1974 by Balkema and de Haan, on Residual Life Time at Great Age.

Because in this experiment, the question is “How Old is the Oldest Person You Know?“, so it is the distribution of a maximum. And from Fisher-Tippett theorem, if we assume that the age is bounded (and that there exists some finite upper limit), then the limiting distribution for the maxima (or to be more rigorous, a affine transformation of the maxima) should be Weibull distribution. And this is what it looks like

> plot(-x,dweibull(x,2.25,4),type="l",lwd=2)

As an actuary, the only thing I know about demography, is the distribution of the age of death. For instance, consider the following French life table

> alive <- read.table(
+ "https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/TV8890.csv",
+ sep=";",header=TRUE)$Lx
> nb= -diff(alive)
> ages=0:110
> plot(ages,nb,type="h")

This is the distribution of the age of the death in a given population. Which is not the same as the distribution mentioned above! What we look for is the following: given that someone is alive, what could be the distribution of his-her age ? Actually, if we assume that the yearly number of birth is constant with time (as well as death probability), then we can compute easily to number of people of age https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?x : we take everyone born (exactly) https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?x years ago, and remove all those who died at at https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?x, https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?x-1, etc. So the function should be

> probadeath=nb/sum(nb)
> nbx=function(x) 1-sum(probadeath[1:(x+1)])
> surv=Vectorize(nbx)(ages)
> distrage=surv/sum(surv)

which looks like

But this assumption of constant number of birth is not that relevent. And actually, what we need is the distribution of the age within a population… This is a population pyramid, actually. The French one can be downloaded from http://www.insee.fr/fr/ppp/bases-de-donnees/….

> population <- read.table("popinsee2007.csv",sep=";",header=TRUE)$POPTOT07
> ages=0:107
> plot(ages,population/sum(population),type="h")

(the red line being the one obtained previously, using some natality assumptions). Now, let us use this population to generate acquaintances.

> agemax=function(nsim=1000,size=20){
+ agemax=rep(NA,nsim)
+ for(i in 1:nsim){
+ X=sample(ages,prob=population/sum(population),size=size,replace=TRUE)
+ agemax[i]=max(X)}
+ return(agemax)}

Here, we assume that everyone knows 20 other people, randomly chosen in the entire population, then we return the age of the oldest. And we do that for 1,000 people. Here is the distribution, we obtain

> XS=agemax(10000,20)
> plot(table(XS)/length(XS),type="h",xlim=c(0,108))

where the red line is a Weibull distribution (a transformed one, actually, since in extremely value theory, the distance to the upper bound of the distribution has a Weibull density),

> library(MASS)
> fit=fitdistr(108-XS,dweibull,list(shape=1,scale=1))
> lines(ages,dweibull(108-ages,fit$estimate[1],fit$estimate[2]),col="red")

Which is quite close to the distribution obtained in the commercial, don’t you think ? But still, it should be possible to be more accurate, since people should think of their parents, or grandparents. So I guess it could be possible to build a more accurate algorithm, to get something closer to the distribution obtained on the Prudential website. But first, let us wait to have more stickers, more observations… and then I’ll be back to play with it !

The law of small numbers

In insurance, the law of large numbers (named loi des grands nombres initially by Siméon Poisson, see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/…) is usually mentioned to legitimate large portfolios, because of pooling and diversification: the larger the pool, the more ‘predictable’ the losses will be (in a given period). Of course, under standard statistical assumption, namely finite expected value, and independence (see http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/…. for a discussion, in French). Since in insurance, catastrophes are usually rare – and extremely costly – and actuaries might be interested to model occurrence of that small number of events (see e.g. Aldous’ book on that specific topic, that can be downloaded from http://stat.berkeley.edu/…). The theorem behind is sometimes called the law of small numbers (from the book published by Ladislaus Bortkiewicz, but we’ll get back to that story later on, see also Whitaker (1914) http://biomet.oxfordjournals.org/… or the book recently published by Michael Falk, Jürg Hüsler and Rolf-Dieter Reiss).

  • The Poisson distribution

The so-called Poisson distribution (see http://en.wikipedia.org/…) was introduced by Siméon Poisson in 1837 (in Recherches sur la Probabilité des Jugements en Matière Criminelle et en Matière Civile, Précédées des Règles Générales du Calcul des Probabilités, see http://gallica.bnf.fr/…). But it had been defined more than a century before, by Abraham De Moivre, in 1711, in De Mensura Sortis seu; de Probabilitate Eventuum in Ludis a Casu Fortuito Pendentibus (see e.g. the review in http://www.jstor.org/…). Let https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?N denote a counting random variable, then it said to be Poisson distributed if there is https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\lambda\in(0,\infty) such that


De Moivre obtained that distribution from an approximation of the binomial distribution. Recall that the binomial distribution is a standard distribution in actuarial science, for instance to model the number of deaths among https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?n insured. If individual death probabilities are identical, say https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?p, and if deaths are independent events, then

And if https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?n\rightarrow\infty and  https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?np\rightarrow%20\lambda, then

https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\mathbb{P}(N=k)\rightarrow%20e^{-\lambda}\frac{\lambda^k}{k!}Again, this is an asymptotic theorem, which is valid when we have a lot of observations (https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?n\rightarrow\infty), but also, the probability of occurrence should be extremely small (since https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?p\sim\lambda/n), which is why to use the term small numbers. Siméon Poisson was not interested by mathematical approximations: his main point was to get a distribution with nice goodness of fit properties for the data he was working on. He wanted to get a better understanding of cours d’assises (jury panel, might be a valid translation of the French term). A jury consists of 12 jurors who voted to determine whether a defendant was guilty. When guilt was predominant, with at least 8 votes against 4, the defendant was convicted (which was 47% of criminal cases). 5 with 7 votes against, the opinion of professional judges was requested (11% of criminal trials again). Using these statistics we can demonstrate that a defendant brought before an assize court is guilty of the order of 68%, and the probability that a juror is not wrong by voting (condemning an innocent or releasing a culprit) was about 54%. He sought to calculate the probability that a defendant is wrongfully convicted, and gets 2%. And 28% of exonerated defendants are in fact guilty. Siméon Poisson introduced this law to get probabilities easily. But the law he considered is central in probability….

  • The law of small numbers

The heuristic of the main theorem, related to the Poisson distribution is the following: let https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?X_1,%20\cdots,X_n denote i.i.d random variables taking values in https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?%20\mathbb{R}^d (in a general setting, one component can be the time, the other one an upper region of interest, where some stochastic process might be). Let https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\mathcal{A}_n\subset\mathbb{R}^d. If  https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\mathbb{P}(X_i%20\in%20\mathcal{A}_n)\rightarrow%200 as https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?n\rightarrow\infty (or https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\mathbb{P}(X_i%20\in%20\mathcal{A}_n)=O(n^{-1}) to be a little bit more specific about the assumptions), let https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?N denote the (random variable characterizing) count of events https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\{X_i%20\in%20\mathcal{A}_n\}, then https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?N can be approximated by a Poisson distribution with parameter https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\lambda%20=n%20\times%20\mathbb%20P(X_i%20\in%20\mathcal{A}_n).
The heuristic is that if we consider a large number of observations, and if we count how many are in a given (small) region, then the number of such observations is Poisson distributed.


If we run some simulations,

>  n=1000
>  ns=100000
>  N=rep(NA,ns)
> for(s in 1:ns){
+ X=runif(n)*10-1.5
+ Y=runif(n)*10-1.5
+ I=(X^2+Y^2)<1
+ N[s]=sum(I)
+ }
> hist(N,breaks=0:60,probability=TRUE,col="yellow")
> mean(N)
[1] 31.41257

The parameter of the Poisson distribution is the area of the yellow disk, over the area of the square, i.e.

> (lambda=10*pi)
[1] 31.41593
> lines(0:60-.5,dpois(0:60,lambda),type="b",col="red")


To get an interpretation related to insurance modeling, let https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\mathcal{A} denote an upper layer in a reinsurance contract, i.e. https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\mathcal{A}=\{x%3Ed\} for some deductible https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?d. Let https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?X_i‘s denote individual losses. Then the number of claims that hit this upper layer can be modeled with a Poisson distribution. More precisely, if deductible https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?d becomes extremely large (and https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\mathbb{P}(X_i%20\in%20\mathcal{A})\rightarrow%200), we obtain the point-over-threshold model in extreme value theory (see e.g. http://brale.math.hr/~iugrina/… or  http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/…): if https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?N has a Poisson distribution and, conditionally on https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?Nhttps://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?X_1,\cdots,X_N are independent identically distributed generalized Pareto random variables, then https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\max\{X_1,\cdots,X_N\} has the generalized extreme value distribution. Thus, exceedances models (for rare events) are closely related to Poisson processes.

  • The Poisson process

As mentioned above, the Poisson distribution appears when events occur somehow randomly and independently, over time. It is then natural to study the time between two occurences (or two claims, in an insurance context).

  • Poisson distribution, and claims occurrence

It is neither Siméon Poisson nor De Moivre, but Ladislaus Von Bortkiewicz who first mentioned the Poisson distribution as the law of small numbers. In 1898 (see https://archive.org/…), he studied the number number of soldiers killed by being kicked by a horse, from 1875 till 1894, in 200 corps (more precisely 10 corps over 20 ans).

He did obtain the following distribution (here, the parameter of the Poisson distribution is 0.61, i.e. the average number of death per year)

number of
death per
0 109 108.67
1 65 66.21
2 22 20.22
3 3 4.11
4 1 0.63
5 and more 0 0.08

It is possible to find a lot of cases where the Poisson distribution fits extremely well. For instance, if we consider the number of hurricanes, that landed in Florida after 1850,

number of
per year
0 30 27.16
1 48 47.99
2 37 42.41
3 29 24.98
4 8 11.03
5 3 3.90
6 3 1.15
7 1 0.29
8 and more 0 0.08
  • Poisson distribution, and return period

The return period was introduced by Emil Gumbel, in hydrology, to link probabilities and durations (see e.g. http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/…). A decennial event has an occurence probability of 1/10. 10 is then the average waiting time before occurence. This does not mean that the event will not occur before 10 years, or has to occur before 10 years. Consider a return period https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?T (in years), then the yearly probability of non-occurrence is https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?1-(1/T).

And the probability of non-occurence over https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?n years is then https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?1-[1-(1/T)]^n. It is standard to summarize this property with the following table,

return period https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?T

Number of years (https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?n) without catastrophes

10 20 50 100 200
10 65.1% 40.1% 18.3% 9.6% 4.9%
20 87.8% 64.2% 33.2% 18.2% 9.5%
50 99.5% 92.3% 63.6% 39.5% 22.5%
100 99.9% 99.4% 86.7% 63.4% 39.5%
200 99.9% 99.9% 98.2% 86.6% 63.3%

The diagonal in the table above is extremely interesting. It looks like there is some kind of convergence towards a limiting value (here  63.2%). Indeed, the number of events observed over n years have a Binomial distribution, with probability https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?1/T=1/n, which will converge towards the Poisson distribution with parameter 1. The probability of not having a catastrophe is then https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?1-\exp(-1), which is equal to 0.632.

  • Rare probabilities and the Poisson distribution

The Poisson distribution keeps appearing when computing probabilies of rare events. For instance, the probability to have at least one incident in a nuclear plant in France, over a 50 year period. Assume that the annual probability of an incident in a reactor https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?p is small, e.g. 0.05%. Assume further that reactors are independent among them, and in time. The probability to have an incident over 80 reactors in 50 years is (exactly)


Of course, a linear approximation is not correct (even if it was mentioned in some French newspaper, as explained in an old post http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/…)


On the other hand

https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\mathbb%20P(N\neq 0)=1-(1-p)^{50\times80%20}%20\sim1-\exp\left(-50\times80\times%20p%20\right)

> p=0.00005
> 1-(1-p)^(50*80)
[1] 0.1812733
> 1-exp(-50*80*p)
[1] 0.1812692

which is the probability that https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?N is null when https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?N has a Poisson distribution with parameter https://latex.codecogs.com/gif.latex?\lambda=50\times80\times%20p. We clearly see here an application of De Moivre’s approximation in risk management.

Another way of looking at this problem is based on the following idea: given the fact that in 45 years of observations on 450 reactors worldwide (roughly), three major accidents were observed including Three Mile Island (1979) and Fukushima (2011), i.e. the average time between accidents can be estimated at 16 years. For a single reactor, we can assume that the average time to wait before an incident is 450 times 16 years, i.e 7200 years. Or the probability to have one incident, over one year, for one reactor is 1 over 7200 (this is the idea behind the return period concept). If we assume that the arrival of accidents occurs randomly and independently of each other (as defined above) then the number of major accidents observed over a period of 50 years in France follows a Poisson distribution with parameter 50 / (7200/80). Also, the probability of having no major accident over 50 years, with 80 reactors can be estimated by



> 1-exp(-50*80/7200)
[1] 0.4262466

(keeping in mind all the uncertainty around the estimated waiting time before a major accident to a single reactor!).

Maximum likelihood estimates for multivariate distributions

Consider our loss-ALAE dataset, and – as in Frees & Valdez (1998) – let us fit a parametric model, in order to price a reinsurance treaty. The dataset is the following,

> library(evd)
> data(lossalae)
> Z=lossalae
> X=Z[,1];Y=Z[,2]

The first step can be to estimate marginal distributions, independently. Here, we consider lognormal distributions for both components,

> Fempx=function(x) mean(X<=x)
> Fx=Vectorize(Fempx)
> u=exp(seq(2,15,by=.05))
> plot(u,Fx(u),log="x",type="l",
+ xlab="loss (log scale)")
> Lx=function(px) -sum(log(Vectorize(dlnorm)(
+ X,px[1],px[2])))
> opx=optim(c(1,5),fn=Lx)
> opx$par
[1] 9.373679 1.637499
> lines(u,Vectorize(plnorm)(u,opx$par[1],
+ opx$par[2]),col="red")

The fit here is quite good,

For the second component, we do the same,

> Fempy=function(x) mean(Y<=x)
> Fy=Vectorize(Fempy)
> u=exp(seq(2,15,by=.05))
> plot(u,Fy(u),log="x",type="l",
+ xlab="ALAE (log scale)")
> Ly=function(px) -sum(log(Vectorize(dlnorm)(
+ Y,px[1],px[2])))
> opy=optim(c(1.5,10),fn=Ly)
> opy$par
[1] 8.522452 1.429645
> lines(u,Vectorize(plnorm)(u,opy$par[1],
+ opy$par[2]),col="blue")

It is not as good as the fit obtained on losses, but it is not that bad,

Now, consider a multivariate model, with Gumbel copula. We’ve seen before that it worked well. But this time, consider the maximum likelihood estimator globally.

> Cop=function(u,v,a) exp(-((-log(u))^a+
+ (-log(v))^a)^(1/a))
> phi=function(t,a) (-log(t))^a
> cop=function(u,v,a) Cop(u,v,a)*(phi(u,a)+
+ phi(v,a))^(1/a-2)*(
+ a-1+(phi(u,a)+phi(v,a))^(1/a))*(phi(u,a-1)*
+ phi(v,a-1))/(u*v)
> L=function(p) {-sum(log(Vectorize(dlnorm)(
+ X,p[1],p[2])))-
+ sum(log(Vectorize(dlnorm)(Y,p[3],p[4])))-
+ sum(log(Vectorize(cop)(plnorm(X,p[1],p[2]),
+ plnorm(Y,p[3],p[4]),p[5])))}
> opz=optim(c(1.5,10,1.5,10,1.5),fn=L)
> opz$par
[1] 9.377219 1.671410 8.524221 1.428552 1.468238

Marginal parameters are (slightly) different from the one obtained independently,

> c(opx$par,opy$par)
[1] 9.373679 1.637499 8.522452 1.429645
> opz$par[1:4]
[1] 9.377219 1.671410 8.524221 1.428552

And the parameter of Gumbel copula is close to the one obtained with heuristic methods in class.

Now that we have a model, let us play with it, to price a reinsurance treaty. But first, let us see how to generate Gumbel copula… One idea can be to use the frailty approach, based on a stable frailty. And we can use Chambers et al (1976)to generate a stable distribution. So here is the algorithm to generate samples from Gumbel copula

> alpha=opz$par[5]
> invphi=function(t,a) exp(-t^(1/a))
> n=500
> x=matrix(rexp(2*n),n,2)
> angle=runif(n,0,pi)
> E=rexp(n)
> beta=1/alpha
> stable=sin((1-beta)*angle)^((1-beta)/beta)*
+ (sin(beta*angle))/(sin(angle))^(1/beta)/
+ (E^(alpha-1))
> U=invphi(x/stable,alpha)
> plot(U)

Here, we consider only 500 simulations,

Based on that copula simulation, we can then use marginal transformations to generate a pair, losses and allocated expenses,

> Xloss=qlnorm(U[,1],opz$par[1],opz$par[2])
> Xalae=qlnorm(U[,2],opz$par[3],opz$par[4])

In standard reinsurance treaties – see e.g. Clarke (1996) – allocated expenses are splited prorata capita between the insurance company, and the reinsurer. If  denotes losses, and  the allocated expenses, a standard excess treaty can be has payoff

where  denotes the (upper) limit, and  the insurer’s retention. Using monte carlo simulation, it is then possible to estimate the pure premium of such a reinsurance treaty.

> L=100000
> R=50000
> Z=((Xloss-R)+(Xloss-R)/Xloss*Xalae)*
+ (R<=Xloss)*(Xloss<L)+
+ ((L-R)+(L-R)/R*Xalae)*(L<=Xloss)
> mean(Z)
[1] 12596.45

Now, play with it… it is possible to find a better fit, I guess…

Copulas and tail dependence, part 1

As mentioned in the course last week Venter (2003) suggested nice functions to illustrate tail dependence (see also some slides used in Berlin a few years ago).

  • Joe (1990)’s lambda

Joe (1990) suggested a (strong) tail dependence index. For lower tails, for instance, consider



  • Upper and lower strong tail (empirical) dependence functions

The idea is to plot the function above, in order to visualize limiting behavior. Define


for the lower tail, and


for the upper tail, where http://freakonometrics.hypotheses.org/files/2017/07/toclatex2png-12.2.php_.png is the survival copula associated with http://freakonometrics.hypotheses.org/files/2017/07/toclatex2png-13.2.php_.png, in the sense that



Now, one can easily derive empirical conterparts of those function, i.e.




Thus, for upper tail, on the right, we have the following graph


and for the lower tail, on the left, we have


For the code, consider some real data, like the loss-ALAE dataset.

> library(evd)
> X=lossalae

The idea is to plot, on the left, the lower tail concentration function, and on the right, the upper tail function.

> U=rank(X[,1])/(nrow(X)+1)
> V=rank(X[,2])/(nrow(X)+1)
> Lemp=function(z) sum((U<=z)&(V<=z))/sum(U<=z)
> Remp=function(z) sum((U>=1-z)&(V>=1-z))/sum(U>=1-z)
> u=seq(.001,.5,by=.001)
> L=Vectorize(Lemp)(u)
> R=Vectorize(Remp)(rev(u))
> plot(c(u,u+.5-u[1]),c(L,R),type="l",ylim=0:1,
+ xlab="LOWER TAIL          UPPER TAIL")
> abline(v=.5,col="grey")

Now, we can compare this graph, with what should be obtained for some parametric copulas that have the same Kendall’s tau (e.g.). For instance, if we consider a Gaussian copula,

> tau=cor(lossalae,method="kendall")[1,2]
> library(copula)
> paramgauss=sin(tau*pi/2)
> copgauss=normalCopula(paramgauss)
> Lgaussian=function(z) pCopula(c(z,z),copgauss)/z
> Rgaussian=function(z) (1-2*z+pCopula(c(z,z),copgauss))/(1-z)
> u=seq(.001,.5,by=.001)
> Lgs=Vectorize(Lgaussian)(u)
> Rgs=Vectorize(Rgaussian)(1-rev(u))
> lines(c(u,u+.5-u[1]),c(Lgs,Rgs),col="red")

or Gumbel’s copula,

> paramgumbel=1/(1-tau)
> copgumbel=gumbelCopula(paramgumbel, dim = 2)
> Lgumbel=function(z) pCopula(c(z,z),copgumbel)/z
> Rgumbel=function(z) (1-2*z+pCopula(c(z,z),copgumbel))/(1-z)
> u=seq(.001,.5,by=.001)
> Lgl=Vectorize(Lgumbel)(u)
> Rgl=Vectorize(Rgumbel)(1-rev(u))
> lines(c(u,u+.5-u[1]),c(Lgl,Rgl),col="blue")

That’s nice (isn’t it?), but since we do not have any confidence interval, it is still hard to conclude (even if it looks like Gumbel copula has a much better fit than the Gaussian one). A strategy can be to generate samples from those copulas, and to visualize what we had. With a Gaussian copula, the graph looks like

> u=seq(.0025,.5,by=.0025); nu=length(u)
> nsimul=500
> MGS=matrix(NA,nsimul,2*nu)
> for(s in 1:nsimul){
+ Xs=rCopula(nrow(X),copgauss)
+ Us=rank(Xs[,1])/(nrow(Xs)+1)
+ Vs=rank(Xs[,2])/(nrow(Xs)+1)
+ Lemp=function(z) sum((Us<=z)&(Vs<=z))/sum(Us<=z)
+ Remp=function(z) sum((Us>=1-z)&(Vs>=1-z))/sum(Us>=1-z)
+ MGS[s,1:nu]=Vectorize(Lemp)(u)
+ MGS[s,(nu+1):(2*nu)]=Vectorize(Remp)(rev(u))
+ lines(c(u,u+.5-u[1]),MGS[s,],col="red")
+ }

(including – pointwise – 90% confidence bands)

> Q95=function(x) quantile(x,.95)
> V95=apply(MGS,2,Q95)
> lines(c(u,u+.5-u[1]),V95,col="red",lwd=2)
> Q05=function(x) quantile(x,.05)
> V05=apply(MGS,2,Q05)
> lines(c(u,u+.5-u[1]),V05,col="red",lwd=2)

while it is

with Gumbel copula. Isn’t it a nice (graphical) tool ?

But as mentioned in the course, the statistical convergence can be slow. Extremely slow. So assessing if the underlying copula has tail dependence, or not, it now that simple. Especially if the copula exhibits tail independence. Like the Gaussian copula. Consider a sample of size 1,000. This is what we obtain if we generate random scenarios,

or we look at the left tail (with a log-scale)

Now, consider a 10,000 sample,

or with a log-scale

We can even consider a 100,000 sample,

or with a log-scale

On those graphs, it is rather difficult to conclude if the limit is 0, or some strictly positive value (again, it is a classical statistical problem when the value of interest is at the border of the support of the parameter). So, a natural idea is to consider a weaker tail dependence index. Unless you have something like 100,000 observations…

Fisher-Tippett theorem with an historical perspective

A couple of weeks ago, Rafael asked me if I had something on the history of extreme value theory. Since I will get back to fundamental results about extremes in my course, I promised I will write down a short post on all that issue.

To start from the beginning, in 1928, Ronald Fisher and Leonard Tippett formulated the three types of limiting distributions for the maximum term of a random sample (Fisher & Tippett (1928)). The problem was to characterize function https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-01.gif such that


where https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-3.gif where https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-4.gif‘s are i.i.d. with cumulative distribution function https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-5.gif. They had supporting arguments, but no (rigorous) proof. Nevertheless, the obtained that the only possible types for G were


i.e. Fréchet type (Pareto-type tails), or


i.e. Weibull type (bounded distribution type), or


i.e. Gumbel type (exponential-type tails). Emil Gumbel has been intensively using the so-called Gumbel distribution on river flows, since (as he explained in 1958), “it seems that the rivers know the theory. It only remains to convince the engineers of the validity of this analysis“.
Independently of that work (published in 1928), Maurice Fréchet considered in 1927 (in Sur la loi de probabilité de l’écart maximum) possible limits of


and obtained only https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-10.gif as possible limit. Richard von Mises gave in 1936 sufficient, but not necessary conditions for their (max) domain of attraction, i.e. characterization of function https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-11.gif such that the maxima converges to some specific function https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-01.gif (von Mises (1936)). E.g. he noticed that a sufficient condition on https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-11.gifto be in the (max) domain of attraction of the Gumbel distribution is that


Then in 1943, Boris Gnedenko gave a complete characterization of those three types, with a complete characterization for two of them (heavy tails, i.e. Fréchet type and bounded support, i.e. Weibull) but his necessary and sufficient condition was based on a function that was not explicitly defined (see Gnedenko (1943)). Laurens de Haan in the 70’s derived checkable condition for Gumbel’s type.
Boris Gnedenko proved (in Section 4 of his paper) that F is the (max) domain of attraction of https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-10.gif if and only if https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-16.gif is regularly varying at infinity, with index https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-17.gif (even if the term “regular variation” was not mentioned in the paper). Similar results were derived to characterize functions in the (max) domain of attraction of Weibull. For the (max) domain of attraction of https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-18.gif, Boris Gnedenko obtained that a necessary and sufficient condition was that there exists a function https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-19.gif such https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-19.gif goes to 0 at infinity and


Several papers have discussed what function https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-19.gif could be e.g. David Mejzler in 1949 (in Russian, but see also his 1965 paper), and Laurens de Hann in 1970 and 1971 (following the dramatic flood in the Netherlands in 1953, researchers in the Netherlands have focuses on dikes, and extreme value applications).

Mejzler’s idea was to work on quantiles, and not on the cumulative distribution function. I.e. define


Then a necessary and sufficient condition for F to be in the (max) domain of attraction of https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-18.gif is that


Laurens de Haan proved in 1971 that function https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-19.gif can be – in general – given by


And in 1976, Laurens de Haan obtained a three-type convergence working on quantile function https://f.hypotheses.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/253/files/2015/12/ext-26.gif (with a much shorter proof).
There have been many many papers extending Fisher-Tippett’s theorem, e.g. on non-independent sequences, like exchangeable ones (in a paper by Simeon Berman in 1962, or on stationary Gaussian sequences in 1964).

Fisher-Tippett theorem and limiting distribution for the maximum

Tomorrow, we will discuss Fisher-Tippett theorem. The idea is that there are only three possible limiting distributions for normalized versions of the maxima of i.i.d. samples http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-00.gif. For bounded distribution, consider e.g. the uniform distribution on the unit interval, i.e. http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-09.gif on the unit interval. Let http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-10.gif and http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-11.gif. Then, for all http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-12.gif and http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-13.gif,


i.e. the limiting distribution of the maximum is Weibull’s.

hist(U,probability=TRUE,,col="light green",

For heavy tailed distribution, or Pareto-type tails, consider Pareto samples, with distribution function http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-05.gif. Let http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-06.gif and http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-07.gif, then


which means that the limiting distribution is Fréchet’s.

hist(U,probability=TRUE,col="light green",

For light tailed distribution, or exponential tails, consider e.g. a sample of exponentially distribution variates, with common distribution function http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-01.gif. Let http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-02.gif and http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-03.gif, then


i.e. the limiting distribution for the maximum is Gumbel’s distribution.

hist(U,probability=TRUE,col="light green",

Consider now a Gaussian http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-17.gif sample. We can use the following approximation of the cumulative distribution function (based on l’Hopital’s rule)


as http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-16.gif. Let http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-18.gif and http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-19.gif. Then we can get


as http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-21.gif. I.e. the limiting distribution of the maximum of a Gaussian sample is Gumbel’s. But what we do not see here is that for a Gaussian sample, the convergence is extremely slow, i.e., with 100 observations, we are still far away from Gumbel distribution,

and it is only slightly better with 1,000 observations,

hist(U,probability=TRUE,col="light green",

Even worst, consider lognormal observations. In that case, recall that if we consider (increasing) transformation of variates, we are in the same domain of attraction. Hence, since http://freakonometrics.blog.free.fr/public/perso5/max-22.gif, if




i.e. using Taylor’s approximation on the right term,


This gives us normalizing coefficients we should use here.

hist(U,probability=TRUE,col="light green",

Some historical remarks on extreme values

I will start here a short post on extreme values, with some historical perspective. In a recent paper (in French), I mentioned the use of the Pareto distribution as a standard model for extremes, but if reinsurers have been using the Pareto distribution for a long time (see here e.g.), the oldest mathematical models when dealing with extreme value should be related to work on maximum values in finite samples.

  • The work of Ronald Fisher and Leonard Tippett

Leonard Henry Tippett, a former student of Karl Pearson published in Biometrika a note on extremes, in 1925. The goal was “the determination of the distribution of the range and the extremes for a large number of samples“. In 1925, everyone was looking for the Gaussian distribution everywhere, and Leonard Tippett observed that the distribution of the largest value did not have a Gaussian distribution.
A few years after, a joint work with Ronald Fisher was presented to the Cambridge Philosophical Society. The starting point was the idea of “stability” (even if the term did not appear explicitely in their work): the limiting distribution the maximum should be of the “same type” as the underlying distribution. Thus, if https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-01.png stands for the cumulative distribution function, it should satisfy functional equation


Solutions of that functional equation will give all possible limiting distributions. Thus, Fisher and Tippett obtained three possible limits,

  • solutions of https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-03.png, i.e. https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-04.png
  • solutions of https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-05.png, i.e. https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-06.png with https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-07.png (i.e. finite lower bound for the support), i.e. https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-08.png
  • solutions of https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-05.png, i.e. https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-10.png if https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-11.png (i.e. finite upper bound for the support), i.e. https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-09.png

Based on those possible limiting distributions, Fisher and Tippett wanted to derive what has been called later on the “domain of attraction” of those distributions.

  • The work of Maurice Fréchet, at the same time

In 1926, Maurice Fréchet wrote a paper on “la loi de probabilité de l’écart maximum“. That paper, as well as the one by Fisher and Tippett (wrote at the same time), investigated asymptotic limits. Both obtained functional equations, but only Maurice Fréchet understood the importance of the stability concept, pointed out by Paul Levy in the context of sums. Thus, Maurice Fréchet introduced the concept of what is called now “max-stability“. But Fréchet solve only functional equation https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-05.png. The point is that Fréchet studied absolute values of errors, i.e. strictly positive random variables. Thus, Maurice Fréchet considered distribution


wherehttps://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-92.png is an arbitrary positive constant. The “2” comes from the fact that Fréchet considered errors with respect to the median. But he did not introduced that new distribution function, he also proved that the distribution appears as a limit when the underlying distribution of the https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-13.png‘s has an algebraic behavior at infinity, i.e. equivalent to https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-90.png, for some https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-91.png. I.e. he proved that Pareto-type tailed distibutions where in the domain of attraction of the Fréchet distribution.

  •  Later on, the work of Emil Gumbel

In 1932, Emil Gumbel gave a talk in France on the “âge limite“. But as he wrote it “on peut donc supposer que la distribution de l’âge limite – c’est à dire la probabilité que la probabilité de cet âge ait une valeur donnée – soit Gaussienne“. But a few years after, he read about Fisher’s work, and observed also that “la distribution d’une valeur extrêmes peut être représentée pour un nombre suffisant d’observations par la formule doublement exponentielle, pourvu que la distribution initiale se comporte asymptotiquement comme une exponentielle. La formule devient rigoureuse si la distribution initiale est exponentielle“, as he wrote in 1935. Thus, as Fréchet proved that Pareto type distribution were in the max-domain of attraction of Fréchet’s distribution, Gumbel obtained that exponential type distributions were in the max-domain of attraction of Gumbel’s distribution. He also introduced the term “distribution de type exponentiel
For Emil Gumbel, it was natural to study the logarithmic derivative of the distribution, since it is the mortality rate in demography (area that Emil Gumbel studied previously). As he mentioned “d’un point de vue théorique, il est intéressant de noter que M. Fréchet a construit une distribution initiale d”une variable aléatoire pour laquelle la valeur absolue de la dérivée logarithmique diminue sans limite“. But since it was not a valuable property for practical applications, he decided that “nous nous bornerons au traitement des données de type exponentiel“. Emil Gumbel always tried to relate his work on extremes and what he did on demograpy.
For instance in 1937, he wrote a paper on “les centennaires” that can also be related to the work of Bortkiewicz on rare events. He also applied his work on radioactivity, and hydrology.
In the 30’s, hydrographs as Hazen or Graszberger introduced the concept of “yearly maximum” of
a river level. They actually proposed to look for actuarial models to study decennial or centennial floods.  But they only used the lognormal distribution to model yearly maxima. In 1936, French hydrologist Aimé Coutagne met Emil Gumbel (who was teaching at the ISFA, in Lyon). At that time, Emil Gumbel was looking for possible applications (outside demography) for his doubly exponential distribution. As as pointed out by Aimé, “sa formule devait être applicable au cas des crues; c’est à dire des plus grands débits, problème analogue à celui des plus grands âges“. Not only Gumbel’s distribution gave better empirical results, but also it came with a theoritical justification.

  • Gumbel’s distribution properties

Consider the Gumbel distribution, with location and scale parameters alpha and beta respectively, i.e.


Note that the associated quantile function is


with mean


and variance

  • The work of Waloddi Weibull

Waloddi Weibull, a Swedish physict proposed a distribution in 1939, to represent the distribution of breaking strength of materials. He used it in the 50’s in reliability concept. Actually, Weibull appeared late in the story of extremes, since Fréchet, Fisher and Tippett mentioned it already in the mid-20’s.

  • From the central limit theorem (on the average) to Fisher-Tippett theorem (on the maxima)

In order to visualize those two theorem, consider the following animation, where samples of 20 exponential variables are generated. From those 20 values, we plot the maximum in blue, and the average in red, on top. Just below, be rescale those points by considering https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-16.png, and below again, https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-15.png}. When then look at the position of https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-14.png and the one of the mean of https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-15.png. We then build an histogram to visualize the distribution of the rescaled maximum (in blue) and the rescale average (in red).

For those who might be busy, after 1000 generations of samples, we obtain the following histograms (below), including the Gaussian distribution below (i.e. the average of exponential variables looks Gaussian, even with only 20 observations, actually the Gaussian distribution is only asymptotic, i.e. we should consider samples of size 2000), and the maximum over 20 observations of exponential variables (on top) looks like a Gumbel distribution (actually, here it is the exact distribution, and it is the asymptotic distribution for exponential type variables).

  • The GEV distribution

The unified expression of those three distributions is call the GEV distribution. The generalized extreme value distribution has cumulative distribution function


for https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-21.png, where https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-22.png is the location parameter, https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-23.png the scale parameter and https://perso.univ-rennes1.fr/arthur.charpentier/latex/ext-24.png the shape parameter. Note that the expected value is

The return period concept

In a paper with David Sibaï (that can be found here), we had a discussion about the concept of “return period” in hydrology. Actually, it looks like this concept has been introduced by Emil Gumbel in his book on Statistics of Extremes.

Graphs are also proposed,

The link between a probability and time can be established clearly using the geometric distribution. The time of the first success has the following distribution

\Pr(X = k) = (1 - p)^{k-1}\,p\,

where 0< p \leq 1 denotes the success probability. Then 
\mathrm{E}(X) = \frac{1}{p},
\qquad\mathrm{var}(X) = \frac{1-p}{p^2}.

This means that the time we have to wait – on average – before the first success is then simply the inverse of the success probability.
Note that this distribution is simply the discrete version of the exponential distribution, satisfying the memoryless property (in the context of continuous variates). And actually, this geometric distribution is the only discrete distribution satisfying such a property.
For instance, to illustrate this idea, the 1910 flood in Paris was suppose to be a centenial event. It does not mean that we must have a similar event next year, it means that we have to wait (still) 100 year – on average – before having a similar event. Or similarly, such an event occurs every year with a 1% probability, assuming temporal independence  (this was actually the point we discussed in our paper).