PIDForest: Anomaly Detection via Partial Identification

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Parikshit Gopalan, Vatsal Sharan, Udi Wieder


We consider the problem of detecting anomalies in a large dataset. We propose a framework called Partial Identification which captures the intuition that anomalies are easy to distinguish from the overwhelming majority of points by relatively few attribute values. Formalizing this intuition, we propose a geometric anomaly measure for a point that we call PIDScore, which measures the minimum density of data points over all subcubes containing the point. We present PIDForest: a random forest based algorithm that finds anomalies based on this definition. We show that it performs favorably in comparison to several popular anomaly detection methods, across a broad range of benchmarks. PIDForest also provides a succinct explanation for why a point is labelled anomalous, by providing a set of features and ranges for them which are relatively uncommon in the dataset.