Time Series as Images: Vision Transformer for Irregularly Sampled Time Series

Published: 21 Sept 2023, Last Modified: 02 Nov 2023NeurIPS 2023 posterEveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: irregularly sampled time series, vision transformer, healthcare, time series classification
TL;DR: We introduce a new perspective for irregularly sampled time series modeling by transforming time series data into line graph images and adapting vision transformers for time series modeling.
Abstract: Irregularly sampled time series are increasingly prevalent, particularly in medical domains. While various specialized methods have been developed to handle these irregularities, effectively modeling their complex dynamics and pronounced sparsity remains a challenge. This paper introduces a novel perspective by converting irregularly sampled time series into line graph images, then utilizing powerful pre-trained vision transformers for time series classification in the same way as image classification. This method not only largely simplifies specialized algorithm designs but also presents the potential to serve as a universal framework for time series modeling. Remarkably, despite its simplicity, our approach outperforms state-of-the-art specialized algorithms on several popular healthcare and human activity datasets. Especially in the rigorous leave-sensors-out setting where a portion of variables is omitted during testing, our method exhibits strong robustness against varying degrees of missing observations, achieving an impressive improvement of 42.8% in absolute F1 score points over leading specialized baselines even with half the variables masked. Code and data are available at https://github.com/Leezekun/ViTST.
Supplementary Material: zip
Submission Number: 8728