Taming Local Effects in Graph-based Spatiotemporal Forecasting

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper


Andrea Cini, Ivan Marisca, Daniele Zambon, Cesare Alippi


Spatiotemporal graph neural networks have shown to be effective in time series forecasting applications, achieving better performance than standard univariate predictors in several settings. These architectures take advantage of a graph structure and relational inductive biases to learn a single (global) inductive model to predict any number of the input time series, each associated with a graph node. Despite the gain achieved in computational and data efficiency w.r.t. fitting a set of local models, relying on a single global model can be a limitation whenever some of the time series are generated by a different spatiotemporal stochastic process. The main objective of this paper is to understand the interplay between globality and locality in graph-based spatiotemporal forecasting, while contextually proposing a methodological framework to rationalize the practice of including trainable node embeddings in such architectures. We ascribe to trainable node embeddings the role of amortizing the learning of specialized components. Moreover, embeddings allow for 1) effectively combining the advantages of shared message-passing layers with node-specific parameters and 2) efficiently transferring the learned model to new node sets. Supported by strong empirical evidence, we provide insights and guidelines for specializing graph-based models to the dynamics of each time series and show how this aspect plays a crucial role in obtaining accurate predictions.