5.4 Spherical and Elliptical Distributions
The multinormal distribution belongs to the large family of elliptical distributions
which has recently gained a lot of attention in financial mathematics. Elliptical distributions
are often used, particularly in risk management.
DEFINITION 5.1
A
random vector
is said to have a spherical
distribution
if its characteristic function
satisfies:
for some scalar function
which is then called
the characteristic generator of the spherical distribution
.
We will write
.
This is only one of several possible ways to define spherical distributions.
We can see spherical distributions as an extension of the standard multinormal
distribution
.
The random radius is related to the generator by a relation described
in Fang et al. (1990, p.29).
The moments of
, provided that they exist, can be expressed
in terms of one-dimensional integrals (Fang et al.; 1990).
A spherically distributed random vector does not, in general, necessarily possess a density.
However, if it does, the marginal densities of dimension smaller than are continuous and the marginal
densities of dimension smaller than are differentiable (except possibly at the origin in
both cases).
Univariate marginal densities for greater than are nondecreasing on and
nonincreasing on .
DEFINITION 5.2
A
random vector
is said to have an elliptical
distribution
with parameters
and
if
has the same distribution as
,
where
and
is a
matrix such that
with
. We shall write
.
REMARK 5.1
The elliptical distribution can be seen as an extension of
.
EXAMPLE 5.6
The multivariate t-distribution.
Let
and
be independent. The random vector
has a multivariate
-distribution with
degrees of freedom.
Moreover the
-distribution belongs to the family of p-dimensioned spherical distributions.
EXAMPLE 5.7
The multinormal distribution.
Let
. Then
and
.
Figure
4.3 shows a density surface of the multivariate normal distribution:
with
and
Notice that the density is constant on ellipses. This is the reason for calling
this family of distributions ``elliptical''.