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Yuanyi Shang

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A principled distributional approach to trajectory similarity measurement

Jan 01, 2023
Yufan Wang, Kai Ming Ting, Yuanyi Shang

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Existing measures and representations for trajectories have two longstanding fundamental shortcomings, i.e., they are computationally expensive and they can not guarantee the `uniqueness' property of a distance function: dist(X,Y) = 0 if and only if X=Y, where $X$ and $Y$ are two trajectories. This paper proposes a simple yet powerful way to represent trajectories and measure the similarity between two trajectories using a distributional kernel to address these shortcomings. It is a principled approach based on kernel mean embedding which has a strong theoretical underpinning. It has three distinctive features in comparison with existing approaches. (1) A distributional kernel is used for the very first time for trajectory representation and similarity measurement. (2) It does not rely on point-to-point distances which are used in most existing distances for trajectories. (3) It requires no learning, unlike existing learning and deep learning approaches. We show the generality of this new approach in three applications: (a) trajectory anomaly detection, (b) anomalous sub-trajectory detection, and (c) trajectory pattern mining. We identify that the distributional kernel has (i) a unique data-dependent property and the above uniqueness property which are the key factors that lead to its superior task-specific performance; and (ii) runtime orders of magnitude faster than existing distance measures.

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