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Cut-n-Reveal: Time-Series Segmentations with Explanations

Abstract

Recent hurricane events have caused unprecedented amounts of damage on critical infrastructure systems and have severely threatened our public safety and economic health. The most observable (and severe) impact of these hurricanes is the loss of electric power in many regions, which causes breakdowns in essential public services. Understanding power outages and how they evolve during a hurricane provides insights on how to reduce outages in the future, and how to improve the robustness of the underlying critical infrastructure systems. In this paper, we propose a novel scalable segmentation with explanations framework to help experts understand such datasets. Our method, CnR (Cut-n-Reveal), first finds a segmentation of the outage sequences based on the temporal variations of the power outage failure process so as to capture major pattern changes. This temporal segmentation procedure is capable of accounting for both the spatial and temporal correlations of the underlying power outage process. We then propose a novel explanation optimization formulation to find an intuitive explanation of the segmentation, such that the explanation highlights the culprit time-series of the change in each segment. Through extensive experiments, we show that our method consistently outperforms competitors in multiple real datasets with ground truth. We further study real county-level power outage data from several recent hurricanes (Matthew, Harvey, Irma) and show that CnR recovers important, non-trivial and actionable patterns for domain experts, while baselines typically do not give meaningful results

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