Relational Outlier Detection: Techniques and Applications

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Virginia Tech


Nowadays, outlier detection has attracted growing interest. Unlike typical outlier detection problems, relational outlier detection focuses on detecting abnormal patterns in datasets that contain relational implications within each data point. Furthermore, different from the traditional outlier detection that focuses on only numerical data, modern outlier detection models must be able to handle data in various types and structures. Detecting relational outliers should consider (1) Dependencies among different data types, (2) Data types that are not continuous or do not have ordinal characteristics, such as binary, categorical or multi-label, and (3) Special structures in the data. This thesis focuses on the development of relational outlier detection methods and real-world applications in datasets that contain non-numerical, mixed-type, and special structure data in three tasks, namely (1) outlier detection in mixed-type data, (2) categorical outlier detection in music genre data, and (3) outlier detection in categorized time series data.

For the first task, existing solutions for mixed-type data mostly focus on computational efficiency, and their strategies are mostly heuristic driven, lacking a statistical foundation. The proposed contributions of our work include: (1) Constructing a novel unsupervised framework based on a robust generalized linear model (GLM), (2) Developing a model that is capable of capturing large variances of outliers and dependencies among mixed-type observations, and designing an approach for approximating the analytically intractable Bayesian inference, and (3) Conducting extensive experiments to validate effectiveness and efficiency.

For the second task, we extended and applied the modeling strategy to a real-world problem. The existing solutions to the specific task are mostly supervised, and the traditional outlier detection methods only focus on detecting outliers by the data distributions, ignoring the input-output relation between the genres and the extracted features. The proposed contributions of our work for this task include: (1) Proposing an unsupervised outlier detection framework for music genre data, (2) Extending the GLM based model in the first task to handle categorical responses and developing an approach to approximate the analytically intractable Bayesian inference, and (3) Conducting experiments to demonstrate that the proposed method outperforms the benchmark methods.

For the third task, we focused on improving the outlier detection performance in the second task by proposing a novel framework and expanded the research scope to general categorized time-series data. Existing studies have suggested a large number of methods for automatic time series classification. However, there is a lack of research focusing on detecting outliers from manually categorized time series. The proposed contributions of our work for this task include: (1) Proposing a novel semi-supervised robust outlier detection framework for categorized time-series datasets, (2) Further extending the new framework to an active learning system that takes user insights into account, and (3) Conducting a comprehensive set of experiments to demonstrate the performance of the proposed method in real-world applications.



Relational Outlier Detection, Generalized Linear Model, Robust Estimation, Music Genre Recognition, Time Series Outlier Detection