Diffusion models have achieved state-of-the-art performance in generative modeling tasks across various domains. Prior works on time series diffusion models have primarily focused on developing conditional models tailored to specific forecasting or imputation tasks. In this work, we explore the potential of task-agnostic, unconditional diffusion models for several time series applications. We propose TSDiff, an unconditionally trained diffusion model for time series. Our proposed self-guidance mechanism enables conditioning TSDiff for downstream tasks during inference, without requiring auxiliary networks or altering the training procedure. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on three different time series tasks: forecasting, refinement, and synthetic data generation. First, we show that TSDiff is competitive with several task-specific conditional forecasting methods (predict). Second, we leverage the learned implicit probability density of TSDiff to iteratively refine the predictions of base forecasters with reduced computational overhead over reverse diffusion (refine). Notably, the generative performance of the model remains intact -- downstream forecasters trained on synthetic samples from TSDiff outperform forecasters that are trained on samples from other state-of-the-art generative time series models, occasionally even outperforming models trained on real data (synthesize).
The world is not static: This causes real-world time series to change over time through external, and potentially disruptive, events such as macroeconomic cycles or the COVID-19 pandemic. We present an adaptive sampling strategy that selects the part of the time series history that is relevant for forecasting. We achieve this by learning a discrete distribution over relevant time steps by Bayesian optimization. We instantiate this idea with a two-step method that is pre-trained with uniform sampling and then training a lightweight adaptive architecture with adaptive sampling. We show with synthetic and real-world experiments that this method adapts to distribution shift and significantly reduces the forecasting error of the base model for three out of five datasets.
* Workshop on Distribution Shifts, 36th Conference on Neural
Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS 2022)
Classifying forecasting methods as being either of a "machine learning" or "statistical" nature has become commonplace in parts of the forecasting literature and community, as exemplified by the M4 competition and the conclusion drawn by the organizers. We argue that this distinction does not stem from fundamental differences in the methods assigned to either class. Instead, this distinction is probably of a tribal nature, which limits the insights into the appropriateness and effectiveness of different forecasting methods. We provide alternative characteristics of forecasting methods which, in our view, allow to draw meaningful conclusions. Further, we discuss areas of forecasting which could benefit most from cross-pollination between the ML and the statistics communities.
We introduce a novel, practically relevant variation of the anomaly detection problem in multi-variate time series: intrinsic anomaly detection. It appears in diverse practical scenarios ranging from DevOps to IoT, where we want to recognize failures of a system that operates under the influence of a surrounding environment. Intrinsic anomalies are changes in the functional dependency structure between time series that represent an environment and time series that represent the internal state of a system that is placed in said environment. We formalize this problem, provide under-studied public and new purpose-built data sets for it, and present methods that handle intrinsic anomaly detection. These address the short-coming of existing anomaly detection methods that cannot differentiate between expected changes in the system's state and unexpected ones, i.e., changes in the system that deviate from the environment's influence. Our most promising approach is fully unsupervised and combines adversarial learning and time series representation learning, thereby addressing problems such as label sparsity and subjectivity, while allowing to navigate and improve notoriously problematic anomaly detection data sets.
Industrial machine learning systems face data challenges that are often under-explored in the academic literature. Common data challenges are data distribution shifts, missing values and anomalies. In this paper, we discuss data challenges and solutions in the context of a Neural Forecasting application on labor planning.We discuss how to make this forecasting system resilient to these data challenges. We address changes in data distribution with a periodic retraining scheme and discuss the critical importance of model stability in this setting. Furthermore, we show how our deep learning model deals with missing values natively without requiring imputation. Finally, we describe how we detect anomalies in the input data and mitigate their effect before they impact the forecasts. This results in a fully autonomous forecasting system that compares favorably to a hybrid system consisting of the algorithm and human overrides.
* Published at: DEEM 20, June 14, 2020, Portland, OR, USA
Neural network based forecasting methods have become ubiquitous in large-scale industrial forecasting applications over the last years. As the prevalence of neural network based solutions among the best entries in the recent M4 competition shows, the recent popularity of neural forecasting methods is not limited to industry and has also reached academia. This article aims at providing an introduction and an overview of some of the advances that have permitted the resurgence of neural networks in machine learning. Building on these foundations, the article then gives an overview of the recent literature on neural networks for forecasting and applications.
Predicting the dependencies between observations from multiple time series is critical for applications such as anomaly detection, financial risk management, causal analysis, or demand forecasting. However, the computational and numerical difficulties of estimating time-varying and high-dimensional covariance matrices often limits existing methods to handling at most a few hundred dimensions or requires making strong assumptions on the dependence between series. We propose to combine an RNN-based time series model with a Gaussian copula process output model with a low-rank covariance structure to reduce the computational complexity and handle non-Gaussian marginal distributions. This permits to drastically reduce the number of parameters and consequently allows the modeling of time-varying correlations of thousands of time series. We show on several real-world datasets that our method provides significant accuracy improvements over state-of-the-art baselines and perform an ablation study analyzing the contributions of the different components of our model.
We introduce Gluon Time Series (GluonTS, available at https://gluon-ts.mxnet.io), a library for deep-learning-based time series modeling. GluonTS simplifies the development of and experimentation with time series models for common tasks such as forecasting or anomaly detection. It provides all necessary components and tools that scientists need for quickly building new models, for efficiently running and analyzing experiments and for evaluating model accuracy.