Modeling Irregular Time Series with Continuous Recurrent Units
Schirmer, Mona, Eltayeb, Mazin, Lessmann, Stefan, and Rudolph, Maja
In Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Machine Learning 17–23 jul 2022
Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are a popular choice for modeling sequential data. Modern RNN architectures assume constant time-intervals between observations. However, in many datasets (e.g. medical records) observation times are irregular and can carry important information. To address this challenge, we propose continuous recurrent units (CRUs) – a neural architecture that can naturally handle irregular intervals between observations. The CRU assumes a hidden state, which evolves according to a linear stochastic differential equation and is integrated into an encoder-decoder framework. The recursive computations of the CRU can be derived using the continuous-discrete Kalman filter and are in closed form. The resulting recurrent architecture has temporal continuity between hidden states and a gating mechanism that can optimally integrate noisy observations. We derive an efficient parameterization scheme for the CRU that leads to a fast implementation f-CRU. We empirically study the CRU on a number of challenging datasets and find that it can interpolate irregular time series better than methods based on neural ordinary differential equations.