Learning Disentangled Representations for Time Series

05/17/2021 ∙ by Yuening Li, et al. ∙ 17

Time-series representation learning is a fundamental task for time-series analysis. While significant progress has been made to achieve accurate representations for downstream applications, the learned representations often lack interpretability and do not expose semantic meanings. Different from previous efforts on the entangled feature space, we aim to extract the semantic-rich temporal correlations in the latent interpretable factorized representation of the data. Motivated by the success of disentangled representation learning in computer vision, we study the possibility of learning semantic-rich time-series representations, which remains unexplored due to three main challenges: 1) sequential data structure introduces complex temporal correlations and makes the latent representations hard to interpret, 2) sequential models suffer from KL vanishing problem, and 3) interpretable semantic concepts for time-series often rely on multiple factors instead of individuals. To bridge the gap, we propose Disentangle Time Series (DTS), a novel disentanglement enhancement framework for sequential data. Specifically, to generate hierarchical semantic concepts as the interpretable and disentangled representation of time-series, DTS introduces multi-level disentanglement strategies by covering both individual latent factors and group semantic segments. We further theoretically show how to alleviate the KL vanishing problem: DTS introduces a mutual information maximization term, while preserving a heavier penalty on the total correlation and the dimension-wise KL to keep the disentanglement property. Experimental results on various real-world benchmark datasets demonstrate that the representations learned by DTS achieve superior performance in downstream applications, with high interpretability of semantic concepts.



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