A variational autoencoder solution for road traffic forecasting systems: Missing data imputation, dimension reduction, model selection and anomaly detection

G. Boquet, A. Morell, J. Serrano, J.L. Vicario

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Efforts devoted to mitigate the effects of road traffic congestion have been conducted since 1970s. Nowadays, there is a need for prominent solutions capable of mining information from messy and multidimensional road traffic data sets with few modeling constraints. In that sense, we propose a unique and versatile model to address different major challenges of traffic forecasting in an unsupervised manner. We formulate the road traffic forecasting problem as a latent variable model, assuming that traffic data is not generated randomly but from a latent space with fewer dimensions containing the underlying characteristics of traffic. We solve the problem by proposing a variational autoencoder (VAE) model to learn how traffic data are generated and inferred, while validating it against three different real-world traffic data sets. Under this framework, we propose an online unsupervised imputation method for unobserved traffic data with missing values. Additionally, taking advantage of the low dimension latent space learned, we compress the traffic data before applying a prediction model obtaining improvements in the forecasting accuracy. Finally, given that the model not only learns useful forecasting features but also meaningful characteristics, we explore the latent space as a tool for model and data selection and traffic anomaly detection from the point of view of traffic modelers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102622
Number of pages18
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Volume115
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Anomaly detection
  • Dimension reduction
  • Intelligent transportation systems
  • Missing data imputation
  • Model selection
  • Traffic forecasting

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