The monitoring and management of numerous and diverse time series data at Alibaba Group calls for an effective and scalable time series anomaly detection service. In this paper, we propose RobustTAD, a Robust Time series Anomaly Detection framework by integrating robust seasonal-trend decomposition and convolutional neural network for time series data. The seasonal-trend decomposition can effectively handle complicated patterns in time series, and meanwhile significantly simplifies the architecture of the neural network, which is an encoder-decoder architecture with skip connections. This architecture can effectively capture the multi-scale information from time series, which is very useful in anomaly detection. Due to the limited labeled data in time series anomaly detection, we systematically investigate data augmentation methods in both time and frequency domains. We also introduce label-based weight and value-based weight in the loss function by utilizing the unbalanced nature of the time series anomaly detection problem. Compared with the widely used forecasting-based anomaly detection algorithms, decomposition-based algorithms, traditional statistical algorithms, as well as recent neural network based algorithms, RobustTAD performs significantly better on public benchmark datasets. It is deployed as a public online service and widely adopted in different business scenarios at Alibaba Group.
We evaluate how modern outlier detection methods perform in identifying outliers in e-commerce conversion rate data. Based on the limitations identified, we then present a novel method to detect outliers in e-commerce conversion rate. This unsupervised method is made more business relevant by letting it automatically adjust the sensitivity based on the activity observed on the e-commerce platform. We call this outlier detection method the fluid IQR. Using real e-commerce conversion data acquired from a known store, we compare the performance of the existing and the new outlier detection methods. Fluid IQR method outperforms the existing outlier detection methods by a large margin when it comes to business-relevance. Furthermore, the fluids IQR method is the most robust outlier detection method in the presence of clusters of extreme outliers or level shifts. Future research will evaluate how the fluid IQR method perform in diverse e-business settings.
Extracting the underlying trend signal is a crucial step to facilitate time series analysis like forecasting and anomaly detection. Besides noise signal, time series can contain not only outliers but also abrupt trend changes in real-world scenarios. To deal with these challenges, we propose a robust trend filtering algorithm based on robust statistics and sparse learning. Specifically, we adopt the Huber loss to suppress outliers, and utilize a combination of the first order and second order difference on the trend component as regularization to capture both slow and abrupt trend changes. Furthermore, an efficient method is designed to solve the proposed robust trend filtering based on majorization minimization (MM) and alternative direction method of multipliers (ADMM). We compared our proposed robust trend filter with other nine state-of-the-art trend filtering algorithms on both synthetic and real-world datasets. The experiments demonstrate that our algorithm outperforms existing methods.
Multiple seasonal patterns play a key role in time series forecasting, especially for business time series where seasonal effects are often dramatic. Previous approaches including Fourier decomposition, exponential smoothing, and seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average (SARIMA) models do not reflect the distinct characteristics of each period in seasonal patterns, such as the unique behavior of specific days of the week in business data. We propose a multi-dimensional hierarchical model. Intermediate parameters for each seasonal period are first estimated, and a mixture of intermediate parameters is then taken, resulting in a model that successfully reflects the interactions between multiple seasonal patterns. Although this process reduces the data available for each parameter, a robust estimation can be obtained through a hierarchical Bayesian model implemented in Stan. Through this model, it becomes possible to consider both the characteristics of each seasonal period and the interactions among characteristics from multiple seasonal periods. Our new model achieved considerable improvements in prediction accuracy compared to previous models, including Fourier decomposition, which Prophet uses to model seasonality patterns. A comparison was performed on a real-world dataset of pallet transport from a national-scale logistic network.
Anomaly detection methods abound and are used extensively in streaming settings in a wide variety of domains. But a strength can also be a weakness; given the vast number of methods, how can one select the best method for their application? Unfortunately, there is no one best way for all domains. Existing literature is focused on creating new anomaly detection methods or creating large frameworks for experimenting with multiple methods at the same time. As the literature continues to grow, extensive evaluation of every available anomaly detection method is not feasible. To reduce this evaluation burden, in this paper we present a framework to intelligently choose the optimal anomaly detection methods based on the characteristics the time series displays. We provide a comprehensive experimental validation of multiple anomaly detection methods over different time series characteristics to form guidelines. Applying our framework can save time and effort by surfacing the most promising anomaly detection methods instead of experimenting extensively with a rapidly expanding library of anomaly detection methods.