Learning Representations for Time Series Clustering

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Qianli Ma, Jiawei Zheng, Sen Li, Gary W. Cottrell


Time series clustering is an essential unsupervised technique in cases when category information is not available. It has been widely applied to genome data, anomaly detection, and in general, in any domain where pattern detection is important. Although feature-based time series clustering methods are robust to noise and outliers, and can reduce the dimensionality of the data, they typically rely on domain knowledge to manually construct high-quality features. Sequence to sequence (seq2seq) models can learn representations from sequence data in an unsupervised manner by designing appropriate learning objectives, such as reconstruction and context prediction. When applying seq2seq to time series clustering, obtaining a representation that effectively represents the temporal dynamics of the sequence, multi-scale features, and good clustering properties remains a challenge. How to best improve the ability of the encoder is still an open question. Here we propose a novel unsupervised temporal representation learning model, named Deep Temporal Clustering Representation (DTCR), which integrates the temporal reconstruction and K-means objective into the seq2seq model. This approach leads to improved cluster structures and thus obtains cluster-specific temporal representations. Also, to enhance the ability of encoder, we propose a fake-sample generation strategy and auxiliary classification task. Experiments conducted on extensive time series datasets show that DTCR is state-of-the-art compared to existing methods. The visualization analysis not only shows the effectiveness of cluster-specific representation but also shows the learning process is robust, even if K-means makes mistakes.