Accelerate HFT with C++ and Python

Accelerate HFT with C++ and Python

Exploring the Power of C++ and Python in High-Frequency Trading: Strategies, Tools, and Best Practices

May 24, 2023·

6 min read

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C++ is a popular language for high-frequency trading (HFT) due to its performance, low-level control, and ability to optimize code for specific hardware. HFT requires processing large amounts of data in real time, and even small improvements in processing speed can result in significant advantages. To build an HFT system in C++, you would need to have a strong understanding of the language and its libraries, as well as experience in software engineering and low-level optimization.


Some important factors to consider when building an HFT system in C++ include the following:

  1. Latency: HFT systems require extremely low latency to be competitive. This means that you need to be able to optimize your code to minimize delays in processing data.

  2. Data processing: HFT systems require processing large amounts of data in real time. C++ is well-suited for this task, as it allows you to optimize data processing algorithms for specific hardware.

  3. Networking: HFT systems require fast and reliable networking capabilities. C++ has strong support for networking, and you can use libraries like Boost.Asio to build highly performant network communication.

  4. Risk management: HFT systems need to be able to manage risk in real time. You will need to build in safeguards to prevent your system from making trades that could result in significant losses.

  5. Testing: HFT systems need to be thoroughly tested to ensure that they are performing as expected. You will need to build testing tools and processes to verify the accuracy and reliability of your system.

  6. Hardware optimization: To achieve the lowest latency possible, you may need to optimize your code for specific hardware. This can involve using processor-specific instructions, optimizing cache usage, and minimizing memory accesses.

  7. Algorithm development: HFT systems rely on sophisticated algorithms to make trading decisions. You will need to have a strong background in mathematics and finance to develop effective trading algorithms.

  8. Regulation compliance: HFT is a highly regulated industry, and you will need to ensure that your system complies with all relevant regulations.

Python vs C++ for HFT

C++ is generally considered to be a better language for HFT compared to Python due to its speed and efficiency in handling large amounts of data and performing complex calculations. C++ is a compiled language, which results in faster execution times compared to interpreted languages like Python. C++ also allows for low-level memory management, which gives programmers greater control over the hardware and memory usage of their programs. Additionally, C++ has a rich set of libraries that can be used for numerical computing, such as the Boost libraries, which provide advanced math functions and algorithms optimized for performance.

Python, on the other hand, is a high-level language that is easy to learn and has a large community of developers and users. It is also a versatile language that can be used for a wide range of applications, including HFT. Python has a clean and readable syntax, which makes it easier to write and understand code. Additionally, Python offers a range of libraries and tools for scientific computing and data analysis, such as NumPy, SciPy, and PyMC3.

In summary, while C++ is generally preferred for HFT due to its speed and efficiency, Python is a versatile language that can also be used for HFT and offers a range of useful libraries and tools.

Basic Code in C++ to implement HFT

#include <iostream>
#include <string>
#include <chrono>

// Binance API libraries, networking libraries, etc. (specific to your setup)
// Add the required libraries for network communication and trading API

// Constants
const std::string API_KEY = "YOUR_API_KEY";
const std::string SECRET_KEY = "YOUR_SECRET_KEY";
const std::string SYMBOL = "BTCUSDT";
const double TRADE_QUANTITY = 0.1;

// Function to execute trades
void executeTrade(double price, double quantity, bool isBuyOrder) {
    // Implement the logic to execute trades on Binance
    // Use the provided API libraries to send the appropriate trade requests
    // Consider setting up rate limits and handling error scenarios

// Function to process market data
void processMarketData(double price) {
    // Implement your HFT strategy here
    // Analyze market data, calculate indicators, and generate trading signals

    // Example strategy: Buy at lower price, sell at higher price
    double buyThreshold = price - 10.0;
    double sellThreshold = price + 10.0;

    // Get current time for tracking latency
    auto currentTime = std::chrono::high_resolution_clock::now();

    // Execute buy or sell order based on the strategy
    if (price <= buyThreshold) {
        executeTrade(price, TRADE_QUANTITY, true);
        std::cout << "Buy order executed at price: " << price << std::endl;
    } else if (price >= sellThreshold) {
        executeTrade(price, TRADE_QUANTITY, false);
        std::cout << "Sell order executed at price: " << price << std::endl;

    // Calculate and print latency
    auto executionTime = std::chrono::high_resolution_clock::now() - currentTime;
    std::cout << "Execution latency: "
              << std::chrono::duration_cast<std::chrono::microseconds>(executionTime).count()
              << " microseconds" << std::endl;

int main() {
    // Initialize the network communication and trading API

    // Connect to Binance and subscribe to the market data feed for the desired symbol

    // Start a loop to continuously process incoming market data
    while (true) {
        // Receive market data updates from Binance
        // Parse the data and extract the relevant information, such as the current price

        double currentPrice = /* Extract the current price from market data */;

        // Process the market data using your HFT strategy

        // Implement any necessary rate limits or sleep to control the frequency of requests

    // Clean up and close the connection

    return 0;

Please note that the code provided is a basic skeleton and lacks essential components like network communication, data parsing, and actual API integration. You will need to research and incorporate the relevant libraries, implement network communication with Binance's API, handle authentication, and parse market data specific to the exchange's format.

Developing a functional HFT system involves numerous factors like order book management, order placement, order cancellation, risk management, and latency optimization. It's crucial to thoroughly research and understand the intricacies of HFT systems, as well

Basic Code in Python to implement HFT

import ccxt
import time

# create Binance exchange object
exchange = ccxt.binance()

# set up API credentials
exchange.apiKey = 'your_api_key'
exchange.secret = 'your_secret_key'

# define trade parameters
symbol = 'BTC/USDT'
amount = 0.001
buy_price = 0
sell_price = 0
stop_loss = 0.98

# start trading loop
while True:
        # get current market price
        ticker = exchange.fetch_ticker(symbol)
        price = ticker['last']

        # buy if price drops below stop loss
        if price < stop_loss * buy_price:
            order = exchange.create_order(symbol, 'limit', 'buy', amount, price)
            buy_price = price
            print('Bought at', price)

        # sell if price rises above buy price
        elif price > buy_price:
            order = exchange.create_order(symbol, 'limit', 'sell', amount, price)
            buy_price = 0
            print('Sold at', price)

        # wait for next loop

    except Exception as e:
        print('Error:', e)

This code uses the ccxt library to connect to the Binance exchange and fetch the current market price of the BTC/USDT pair. It then buys or sells the specified amount of BTC based on the defined trade parameters. The stop loss parameter is used to prevent excessive losses in case the price drops below a certain threshold. The code runs in an infinite loop, waiting for the next trade opportunity. This is just a basic example, and more sophisticated models can be built using machine learning or other techniques.


Building an HFT system in C++ requires a high level of technical expertise and a deep understanding of the financial markets. It is a challenging and highly competitive field, but for those who are able to build successful systems, the rewards can be significant.


Any information or communication provided by me is for educational or informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice. It is important to conduct your own research and seek the advice of a professional financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Any investment you make is solely at your own risk, and I am not liable for any losses or damages that may occur as a result of your investment decisions.