If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Forecasting models that are trained across sets of many time series, known as Global Forecasting Models (GFM), have shown recently promising results in forecasting competitions and real-world applications, outperforming many state-of-the-art univariate forecasting techniques. In most cases, GFMs are implemented using deep neural networks, and in particular Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN), which require a sufficient amount of time series to estimate their numerous model parameters. However, many time series databases have only a limited number of time series. In this study, we propose a novel, data augmentation based forecasting framework that is capable of improving the baseline accuracy of the GFM models in less data-abundant settings. We use three time series augmentation techniques: GRATIS, moving block bootstrap (MBB), and dynamic time warping barycentric averaging (DBA) to synthetically generate a collection of time series. The knowledge acquired from these augmented time series is then transferred to the original dataset using two different approaches: the pooled approach and the transfer learning approach. When building GFMs, in the pooled approach, we train a model on the augmented time series alongside the original time series dataset, whereas in the transfer learning approach, we adapt a pre-trained model to the new dataset. In our evaluation on competition and real-world time series datasets, our proposed variants can significantly improve the baseline accuracy of GFM models and outperform state-of-the-art univariate forecasting methods.
Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN) have become competitive forecasting methods, as most notably shown in the winning method of the recent M4 competition. However, established statistical models such as ETS and ARIMA gain their popularity not only from their high accuracy, but they are also suitable for non-expert users as they are robust, efficient, and automatic. In these areas, RNNs have still a long way to go. We present an extensive empirical study and an open-source software framework of existing RNN architectures for forecasting, that allow us to develop guidelines and best practices for their use. For example, we conclude that RNNs are capable of modelling seasonality directly if the series in the dataset possess homogeneous seasonal patterns, otherwise we recommend a deseasonalization step. Comparisons against ETS and ARIMA demonstrate that the implemented (semi-)automatic RNN models are no silver bullets, but they are competitive alternatives in many situations.
Generating forecasts for time series with multiple seasonal cycles is an important use-case for many industries nowadays. Accounting for the multi-seasonal patterns becomes necessary to generate more accurate and meaningful forecasts in these contexts. In this paper, we propose Long Short-Term Memory Multi-Seasonal Net (LSTM-MSNet), a decompositionbased, unified prediction framework to forecast time series with multiple seasonal patterns. The current state of the art in this space are typically univariate methods, in which the model parameters of each time series are estimated independently. Consequently, these models are unable to include key patterns and structures that may be shared by a collection of time series. In contrast, LSTM-MSNet is a globally trained Long Short-Term Memory network (LSTM), where a single prediction model is built across all the available time series to exploit the crossseries knowledge in a group of related time series. Furthermore, our methodology combines a series of state-of-the-art multiseasonal decomposition techniques to supplement the LSTM learning procedure. In our experiments, we are able to show that on datasets from disparate data sources, like e.g. the popular M4 forecasting competition, a decomposition step is beneficial, whereas in the common real-world situation of homogeneous series from a single application, exogenous seasonal variables or no seasonal preprocessing at all are better choices. All options are readily included in the framework and allow us to achieve competitive results for both cases, outperforming many state-ofthe-art multi-seasonal forecasting methods
Generating accurate and reliable sales forecasts is crucial in the E-commerce business. The current state-of-the-art techniques are typically univariate methods, which produce forecasts considering only the historical sales data of a single product. However, in a situation where large quantities of related time series are available, conditioning the forecast of an individual time series on past behaviour of similar, related time series can be beneficial. Given that the product assortment hierarchy in an E-commerce platform contains large numbers of related products, in which the sales demand patterns can be correlated, our attempt is to incorporate this cross-series information in a unified model. We achieve this by globally training a Long Short-Term Memory network (LSTM) that exploits the nonlinear demand relationships available in an E-commerce product assortment hierarchy. Aside from the forecasting engine, we propose a systematic pre-processing framework to overcome the challenges in an E-commerce setting. We also introduce several product grouping strategies to supplement the LSTM learning schemes, in situations where sales patterns in a product portfolio are disparate. We empirically evaluate the proposed forecasting framework on a real-world online marketplace dataset from Walmart. com. Our method achieves competitive results on category level and super-departmental level datasets, outperforming state-of-the-art techniques.