Mastering Time Series Analysis with Help From the Experts


By Rosaria Silipo, Principal Data Scientist at KNIME



ImageI’m right here with the dream workforce behind the elements, programs, webinars, and all different materials developed to resolve time sequence evaluation issues with KNIME Analytics Platform: Prof. Daniele Tonini, teaches statistics, machine learning and naturally time sequence evaluation at the Università Bocconi in Milan (Italy); Corey Weisinger, the data scientist at KNIME specialised in sign processing and time sequence evaluation; and Maarit Widmann, additionally a data scientist at KNIME, whose focus is  scoring metrics after which, in fact, time sequence evaluation. 

Time sequence evaluation is one in every of the many disciplines in the area of data science. It is a bit the uncared for little sister of machine learning. While we discover tons of programs on machine learning and artificial intelligence, the variety of programs obtainable, for instance in tutorial applications, for time sequence evaluation is restricted. Even when exploring this restricted quantity of academic materials, it’s actually arduous to discover a complete ebook, course, or webinar masking all steps required and all choices obtainable for time sequence evaluation.

[Rosaria] So, my first query is: Why is there so little academic materials on time sequence evaluation? And, when obtainable, why so confused?

[Daniele] Time Series Analysis comes from the union of procedures rooted in statistics, machine learning, and sign processing. Statistically primarily based procedures require the verification of plenty of usually unrealistic statistical hypotheses; machine Learning procedures simply require a considerable amount of information; and sign processing operations intention at remodeling the information with no prediction ambitions. All three units of procedures grew over time, however individually, facet by facet. Thus, usually a course or a ebook focuses in depth on solely a type of points, overlooking procedures from the different areas. 

[Rosaria] Is this why you created your personal Time Series Analysis course for practitioners?

[Maarit] There was a requirement for a course like this by the KNIME consumer base. Some data scientists work particularly with time sequence and had been eager about steerage on the theoretical steps in a time sequence evaluation venture and on the nodes and elements in KNIME Analytics Platform which can be helpful for that.

[Rosaria] Talking about the options and nodes in KNIME Analytics Platform particularly for time sequence evaluation, what are they and the place can I discover them?

[Maarit]  The KNIME elements for time sequence evaluation could be present in two locations: the KNIME Hub and in the EXAMPLES area. On the KNIME Hub simply seek for “time series analysis” and choose “Components”. You will discover all of them. Then simply drag and drop the part you want into your workflow, configure it, and you might be able to go. It’s the identical from the EXAMPLES area, below “00_Components/Time Series” in the KNIME Explorer panel in the high left nook of KNIME Analytics Platform. These elements implement generally required procedures for preprocessing and mannequin constructing for time sequence evaluation: from time aggregation, ARIMA and auto-ARIMA fashions, seasonality inspection and removing, by to seasonality restoring, Fast Fourier Transform, and extra.

[Rosaria] Are these elements primarily based on integration with some particular libraries?

[Corey] Some simply embrace KNIME native nodes, some are primarily based on the “StatsModel” Python library. This is why a few of these elements require a Python set up and the KNIME Python integration.

[Rosaria] Where can I discover examples on how you can use these elements for time sequence evaluation?

[Maarit] Again, on the KNIME Hub yow will discover a whole bunch of instance workflows on time sequence evaluation. Just sort “time series analysis” and choose “Workflows”, and you’ll in all probability discover the instance you want.

[Rosaria] What can I do then, if I would like a particular perform, like the Ljung-Box check or the Garch technique, and this isn’t obtainable in the time sequence elements?

[Corey] Some particular features haven’t been built-in in the time sequence elements but. In such a case, you may resort to Python and R libraries by way of the KNIME Python and KNIME R integration.

[Rosaria] Could you present some basic use circumstances for time sequence evaluation?

[Maarit] The most typical utility is demand prediction, demand prediction for something: energy wanted in a metropolis, prospects in a restaurant, guests to an online web page, packages of beer on the cabinets, … The thought right here is to foretell the subsequent quantity in future primarily based on earlier numeric values. Another basic utility is anomaly detection. Given a time sequence, detect sudden or progressive surprising change. Also speech recognition, language processing, value forecasting, inventory market predictions, survival evaluation, to call only a few.

[Rosaria] Now for the most often requested query. Which household of fashions is finest to make use of for time sequence prediction: ARIMA, Machine Learning regression fashions, or LSTM primarily based recurrent neural networks?

[Daniele] An necessary level here’s what is supposed by “the best model” As we’re going to elucidate in the forthcoming time sequence evaluation programs, it’s not nearly out of pattern efficiency comparability. There are different necessary gadgets it’s good to contemplate in your mannequin choice process, similar to:

  • Forecast horizon, in relation to TSA goals
  • Type/quantity of accessible information
  • Required readability of the outcomes
  • Number of sequence to forecast
  • Deployment associated points

Thus, all of the proposed fashions have their execs and cons. ARIMA has been round the longest, however requires the verification of some statistical hypotheses and this isn’t at all times practical to realize. Machine Learning fashions, in distinction, usually don’t really depend on statistical hypotheses and simply want a considerable amount of information. Some of them have really been optimized to run on very very giant quantities of information. 

Which technique works finest relies upon – as traditional – in your drawback and your information. If you might be dealing with information that may be remodeled into stationary time sequence, in an inexpensive quantity of samples and with an inexpensive variety of regressors, then the ARIMA would possibly yield the finest outcomes. However, if you’re dealing with an distinctive quantity of information, with multivariate time sequence which can be very lengthy and/or with many dimensions, then Machine Learning strategies may be extra environment friendly. For instance, at the newest M5 time sequence competitors, the problem was primarily based on a multivariate time sequence and the winner of the competitors turned out to be gradient boosting algorithms from the LightGBM library, after years of ARIMA dominance.

[Rosaria] This could be very fascinating. One of the questions we have now been requested was about dealing with the evaluation of enormous quantities of information. Which strategies can I take advantage of right here?

[Daniele] When dealing with giant quantities of information, conventional statistics primarily based strategies for time sequence evaluation begin exhibiting their limitations. Most Machine Learning methods, on the different hand, have been designed since the begin to deal with giant quantities of information, both by way of parallel computation or pace optimized algorithms.We are observing an growing recognition of quick machine learning algorithms, similar to for instance these in the XGBoost library, to resolve time sequence evaluation issues.

[Rosaria] There has been a whole lot of speak lately about the success of LSTM items in recurrent neural networks when utilized to time sequence evaluation issues. Why ought to LSTM-based recurrent networks work higher moderately than conventional neural networks for time sequence evaluation?

[Corey] Recurrent connections in a neural community introduce the time issue to the processing of the enter information. Let’s suppose we have now a basic feedforward community with an autoconnection. Then, with enter x(0) at time t=0 the community will produce an output y(0). However, at time t=1, inputs to the community shall be x(1) in addition to the earlier output y(0) travelling again to the enter layer by way of the auto-connection. There! We have launched the idea of time and reminiscence right into a static neural community. Long Short Term Memory items, or LSTM items for brief, take the reminiscence idea to the subsequent degree. Through a sequence of gates, they’ll excellent what to recollect and what to overlook, what to maintain from the enter, what to supply as output, and what to retailer in the unit state. And certainly, they’ve been utilized efficiently to plenty of time sequence evaluation issues.

[Rosaria] Still on modeling. If I determine to make use of an ARIMA mannequin, how can I choose the values for the three parameters of ARIMA for finest forecast outcomes?

[Maarit] As for a lot of different questions in data science, the reply right here depends on expertise. Depending on the information and the enterprise case, the three orders of the ARIMA mannequin can change fairly a bit. So, normally the finest method is to attempt a number of completely different mixtures and see from the check set which mannequin will get the finest outcomes. This form of experimental process has been carried out in the auto-ARIMA part. The part tries a number of completely different orders for the ARIMA mannequin and measures and compares the performances of the completely different ARIMA fashions. The finest performing mannequin is supplied at the output port.

[Rosaria] And now for the elephant in the room. How a lot previous is sufficient previous? How lengthy do we have to return in historical past to have sufficient information?

[Daniele] Yes! This is one other very fashionable query! Again, there isn’t any pre-packaged simple reply to this query. It is a compromise. Of course, the extra previous you utilize the extra info the mannequin will get, the extra correct the mannequin shall be. However, you could agree that it could be ineffective to incorporate uninformative information. One commonplace observe, for instance, is to estimate seasonality in the time sequence after which present a previous time window that covers the seasonal interval. Again, it’s a trade-off between how a lot previous is important to mannequin the temporal options and the way a lot previous the mannequin and the device can deal with.

[Rosaria] Can I practice a mannequin for time sequence prediction with little or no previous?  Can I take advantage of the PROPHET library for this?

[Corey] The PROPHET library does appear to carry out acceptably on time sequence particularly with only a few values sampled in the previous. It has not been built-in into our KNIME elements for Time Series Analysis but. But you may nonetheless apply it utilizing the Python integration that’s a part of KNIME Analytics Platform.

[Rosaria] We have seen how you can practice a mannequin for time sequence prediction. Now, which error metric ought to I take advantage of to judge the predictive mannequin’s efficiency?

[Maarit] In literature, there are numerous metrics that match numerical predictions. The most typical metrics are: Mean Absolute Error (MAE), Mean Squared Error (MSE), Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE), Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE), Mean Signed Difference (MSD), and in addition R^2. However,  R^2 will not be the most popular metric to measure the high quality of time sequence predictions. This is as a result of, particularly for time sequence with giant variance, the worth will get squashed shortly near 1 and enhancements in prediction high quality develop into arduous to note. 

[Rosaria] How can I examine mannequin high quality and consistency in time sequence evaluation? For instance, to stop over-parameterizing the mannequin?

[Daniele] The simplest method to examine for mannequin high quality remains to be to measure efficiency on a check set, utilizing one in every of the measures that Maarit has listed. We set a threshold below which efficiency will not be acceptable and the mannequin have to be modified and retrained. We can at all times automate this half – checking whether or not efficiency falls beneath or above the threshold with a easy rule.

[Rosaria] One query about deployment. How can you make sure that the information preparation half is precisely the identical in coaching and in deployment? How can you make sure that the deployment information are constant with the coaching information?

[Corey] Yes, that is the deployment syndrome. You have an important mannequin, all of it works; however then, when transferring it into manufacturing, one thing will get misplaced in translation and pre-processing will not be precisely the identical in coaching and in deployment. The device you utilize ought to present some protected deployment options. KNIME software program, for instance, offers the built-in deployment function precisely in order to make it possible for nothing is misplaced in translation.

[Rosaria] Still about deployment. How can we deal with intermittent demand when the information change due to exterior elements? Let’s take the COVID pandemic for instance. The information have modified. Do we have to rebuild the fashions? When do we have to rebuild the fashions?

[Corey] Life in the actual world will not be that simple. Models are educated on a coaching set and examined on a check set, which normally come from an authentic dataset, sampling the system at a sure cut-off date. But then the system modifications, the information utilized in the lab are now not consultant and the mannequin turns into insufficient. The system can change slowly and produce an information drift, or abruptly produce an information bounce. In each circumstances, steady monitoring of the mannequin efficiency on new samples of the system information ought to present a warning of its inadequacy.

[Rosaria] How can I keep away from information leakage in time sequence evaluation?

[Maarit] When making ready information for time sequence evaluation, you need to just remember to protect the time order of the information. You want to order the older information for coaching and the most up-to-date information for testing. You practice on the previous to foretell the future. In KNIME Analytics Platform, the Partitioning node, which is the node used to create coaching and check units, has a devoted “Take from top” choice, which permits the previous to be separated from the future, if the information rows are time ordered.

[Rosaria] It appears we have now moved into the information preparation part. Let’s proceed with a number of questions on this matter then. What preprocessing steps do you suggest to make a time sequence stationary?

[Daniele] Well, to start with eradicating an seasonality. Usually this alone already makes a great contribution in direction of stationarity. If no seasonality is detected, it’s commonplace observe to use the first-order distinction to a non-stationary time sequence, as a way to stabilize the common worth. The logarithm transformation can be usually used to stabilize the variability of the time sequence throughout time.

[Rosaria] Do I have to decompose the sign earlier than coaching the mannequin? If sure, why? 

[Daniele] The reply right here is related to the earlier reply. Removing seasonality and making use of the mannequin to the time sequence residuals solely normally helps with mannequin high quality. 

[Rosaria] If I decompose the sign and practice the mannequin, do I have to rebuild the sign at the finish? How are you able to restore seasonality and pattern to the forecasted residual values?

[Corey] It is dependent upon the form of prediction. If you expect whether or not or not the inventory value will rise, then there isn’t any have to reintroduce the seasonality right into a sure/no form of classification. However, if we have to present the predicted value worth, then the reintegration of the seasonality is necessary. To try this, there’s a node in the Time Series elements: the Return Seasonality part. It does precisely that. It takes the predicted residuals and provides the seasonality again in.

[Rosaria] How is dimensionality discount used for a regression drawback? How do you determine on the most necessary options?

[Corey] The basic methods for dimensionality discount apply to time sequence as properly. If it seems that x(t), x(t-24) and x(t-48) are extremely correlated, we are able to take simply one in every of them. By the manner, this may imply that the time sequence has a 24h seasonality and eradicating seasonality would already maintain this dimensionality discount trick. If we need to know which previous pattern is contributing the most to the prediction, we are able to run a backward function elimination process. 

[Rosaria] Another query we’re requested usually is about the mechanism of time sequence evaluation in KNIME Analytics Platform. I want to elaborate on that one personally! 

[Rosaria] The time sequence elements in KNIME Analytics Platform allow you to all through the whole time sequence evaluation journey: from preprocessing, seasonality removing, and eradicating non-stationarity, by to coaching and scoring a mannequin. However, it’s inconceivable to explain the entire process in a solution of only a few strains. For extra info, you may learn the weblog publish Building a Time Series Analysis Application or attend the subsequent on-line course on Time Series Analysis on November 16-17, 2020 at the on-line KNIME Fall Summit. There Daniele, Corey, and Maarit clarify the entire course of for time sequence evaluation intimately and supply workout routines primarily based on actual use circumstances.

With this final query and reply we are able to shut this interview. I want to thank Daniele, Corey, and Maarit for giving us the alternative to study one thing new, however particularly for placing collectively the time sequence elements for KNIME Analytics Platform and the course “[L4-TS] An Introduction to Time Series Analysis”.

Some of the questions and solutions reported on this article are taken from the webinar Time Series Analysis: Panel Discussion run on July 13 2020.

Bio: Rosaria Silipo has been a researcher in functions of Data Mining and Machine Learning for over a decade. Application fields embrace biomedical techniques and information evaluation, monetary time sequence (together with threat evaluation), and automated speech processing.



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