I am working on deep learning model to detect regions of timesteps with anomalies. This model should classify each timestep as possessing the anomaly or not.

My labels are something like this:

labels = [0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 ...]

The 0s represent 'normal' timesteps and the 1s represent the existence of an anomaly. In reality, my dataset is very very imbalanced:

  1. My training set consists of over 7000 samples, where only 1400 samples = 20% of those contain at least 1 anomaly (timestep = 1)
  2. I am feeding samples with 4096 timesteps each. The average number of anomalies, in the samples that contain them, is around 2. So, assuming there is an anomaly, the % of anomalous timesteps ranges from 0.02% to 0.04% for each sample.

With that said, I do need to shift from the standard binary cross entropy to something that highlights the anomalous timesteps from the anomaly free timesteps.

So, I experimented adding weights to the anomalous class in such a way that the model is forced to learn from the anomalies and not just reduce its loss from the anomaly-free timesteps. It actually worked well and the model seems to learn to detect anomalous timesteps. One problem however is that training can become quite unstable (and unpredictable), with sudden loss spikes appearing and affecting the learning process. Below, you can see the effects on the loss and metrics charts for two of my trainings:

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After going through a debugging process for the trainings, I am confident that the problem comes from ocasional predictions given for the anomalous timesteps. That is, in some samples of a certain epoch, and in some anomalous timesteps, the model is giving a very low prediction, e.g. 0.01, for the 1s label (should be close to 1 ofc). Considering the very high (but supposedly necessary) weights given to the anomalous timesteps, the penaly is really extreme and the loss just skyrockets.

Going deeper, if I inspect the losses of the sample where the jump happened and look for the batch right before the loss jumped, I see that the losses are all around 10^-2 - 0.0053, 0.004, 0.0041... - not a single sample with a loss over those values. Overall, an average loss of 0.005. However, if I inspect the loss of the following batch, in that same sample, the avg. loss of the batch is already 3.6, with a part of the samples with a low loss but another part with a very high loss - e.g. 9.2, 7.7, 8.9... I can confirm that all the high losses come from the penalties given at predicting the 1s timesteps. The following batches of the same sample and some of the batches of the next epoch get affected and take some time to start decreasing again and going back to a stable learning process.

With this said, I am having this problem for some weeks already and really need some guidance in what I could try to deal with the spikes, which I assume that arise on the gradient updates associated with anomalous timesteps that are harder to learn.

I am currently using a simple 2-layer keras LSTM model with 64 units each and a dense as the last layer with a 1 unit dense layer with sigmoid activation. As for the optimizer I am using Adam. I am training with batch size 128. Some things to consider also:

  • I have tried changes in weights and other loss functions. Ultimately, if I reduce the weights given to the anomalous timesteps the model doesn't give so much importance to them and the loss reduces by considering only the anomalous free timesteps. I have also considered focal binary cross entropy loss but it doesn't seem to do anything that could avoid those jumps as, in the end, it is all about adding or reducing weights for certain timesteps.
  • My current learning rate is the Adam's default, 10⁻3. I have tried reducing the learning rate which leads to less impactful spikes (they're still there though) but the model also takes much more time or gets stuck. Not sure if it would be the way to go in this case, as the training seems to go well except for these cases. Decaying learning rate might also not make too much sense as the spikes can happen earlier in the training and not only on later epochs. Not sure if this is the way to go.
  • I am still investigating gradient clipping as a solution. I am still not sure on what values to use and if it is actually an effective solution for my case, but from what I understood of it, it should allow to counter those jumps resulting from those 'almost' exploding gradients.
  • The spikes could originate from sample noise / bad samples. However, since I am already using batch size 128 and I have already tested training with simple synthetic samples I have created and the spikes were still there, I guess it is not a problem with specific samples.
  • The imbalance obviously plays the bigger role here. Not sure if undersampling the majority class of samples of 4096 timesteps (like increasing from 20% to 50% the amount of samples with at least an anomalous timestep) would make a big difference here since each sample of timesteps is by itself very imbalanced as it contains around 2 timesteps with anomalies. It is a problem with the imbalance within each sample.

I know it might be quite some context but honestly I am already into my limit of trying stuff for weeks.

The solutions I am inclined to go for next are either gradient clipping or just changing my samples to be more centered around the anomalous timesteps, in such a way that it contains less anomaly free timesteps and hopefully allows for convergence without having to apply such drastic weights to anomalous timesteps. This last option is more difficult for me to opt for due to some restrictions, but I might look at it if I have nothing else available.

What do you think? I am able to provide more information if needed.



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