Keywords: Time series anomaly detection, Transformers, Anomaly attention, Association discrepancy
Abstract: Unsupervised detection of anomaly points in time series is a challenging problem, which requires the model to derive a distinguishable criterion. Previous methods tackle the problem mainly through learning pointwise representation or pairwise association, however, neither is sufficient to reason about the intricate dynamics. Recently, Transformers have shown great power in unified modeling of pointwise representation and pairwise association, and we find that the self-attention weight distribution of each time point can embody rich association with the whole series. Our key observation is that due to the rarity of anomalies, it is extremely difficult to build nontrivial associations from abnormal points to the whole series, thereby, the anomalies' associations shall mainly concentrate on their adjacent time points. This adjacent-concentration bias implies an association-based criterion inherently distinguishable between normal and abnormal points, which we highlight through the Association Discrepancy. Technically, we propose the Anomaly Transformer with a new Anomaly-Attention mechanism to compute the association discrepancy. A minimax strategy is devised to amplify the normal-abnormal distinguishability of the association discrepancy. The Anomaly Transformer achieves state-of-the-art results on six unsupervised time series anomaly detection benchmarks of three applications: service monitoring, space & earth exploration, and water treatment.
One-sentence Summary: This paper detects time series anomalies from a new association-based dimension. We find an inherently normal-abnormal distinguishable evidence as Association Discrepancy. Co-designed with this evidence, our model achieves the SOTA on six benchmarks.