Visual Forecasting of Time Series with Image-to-Image Regression

11/18/2020
by   Naftali Cohen, et al.
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Time series forecasting is essential for agents to make decisions in many domains. Existing models rely on classical statistical methods to predict future values based on previously observed numerical information. Yet, practitioners often rely on visualizations such as charts and plots to reason about their predictions. Inspired by the end-users, we re-imagine the topic by creating a framework to produce visual forecasts, similar to the way humans intuitively do. In this work, we take a novel approach by leveraging advances in deep learning to extend the field of time series forecasting to a visual setting. We do this by transforming the numerical analysis problem into the computer vision domain. Using visualizations of time series data as input, we train a convolutional autoencoder to produce corresponding visual forecasts. We examine various synthetic and real datasets with diverse degrees of complexity. Our experiments show that visual forecasting is effective for cyclic data but somewhat less for irregular data such as stock price. Importantly, we find the proposed visual forecasting method to outperform numerical baselines. We attribute the success of the visual forecasting approach to the fact that we convert the continuous numerical regression problem into a discrete domain with quantization of the continuous target signal into pixel space.

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