Exploring Bayesian Surprise to Prevent Overfitting and to Predict Model Performance in Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring

16 Sep 2020  ·  Richard Jones, Christoph Klemenjak, Stephen Makonin, Ivan V. Bajic ·

Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring (NILM) is a field of research focused on segregating constituent electrical loads in a system based only on their aggregated signal. Significant computational resources and research time are spent training models, often using as much data as possible, perhaps driven by the preconception that more data equates to more accurate models and better performing algorithms. When has enough prior training been done? When has a NILM algorithm encountered new, unseen data? This work applies the notion of Bayesian surprise to answer these questions which are important for both supervised and unsupervised algorithms. We quantify the degree of surprise between the predictive distribution (termed postdictive surprise), as well as the transitional probabilities (termed transitional surprise), before and after a window of observations. We compare the performance of several benchmark NILM algorithms supported by NILMTK, in order to establish a useful threshold on the two combined measures of surprise. We validate the use of transitional surprise by exploring the performance of a popular Hidden Markov Model as a function of surprise threshold. Finally, we explore the use of a surprise threshold as a regularization technique to avoid overfitting in cross-dataset performance. Although the generality of the specific surprise threshold discussed herein may be suspect without further testing, this work provides clear evidence that a point of diminishing returns of model performance with respect to dataset size exists. This has implications for future model development, dataset acquisition, as well as aiding in model flexibility during deployment.

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