Meta-AAD: Active Anomaly Detection with Deep Reinforcement Learning

High false-positive rate is a long-standing challenge for anomaly detection algorithms, especially in high-stake applications. To identify the true anomalies, in practice, analysts or domain experts will be employed to investigate the top instances one by one in a ranked list of anomalies identified by an anomaly detection system. This verification procedure generates informative labels that can be leveraged to re-rank the anomalies so as to help the analyst to discover more true anomalies given a time budget. Some re-ranking strategies have been proposed to approximate the above sequential decision process. Specifically, existing strategies have been focused on making the top instances more likely to be anomalous based on the feedback. Then they greedily select the top-1 instance for query. However, these greedy strategies could be sub-optimal since some low-ranked instances could be more helpful in the long-term. In this work, we propose Active Anomaly Detection with Meta-Policy (Meta-AAD), a novel framework that learns a meta-policy for query selection. Specifically, Meta-AAD leverages deep reinforcement learning to train the meta-policy to select the most proper instance to explicitly optimize the number of discovered anomalies throughout the querying process. Meta-AAD is easy to deploy since a trained meta-policy can be directly applied to any new datasets without further tuning. Extensive experiments on 24 benchmark datasets demonstrate that Meta-AAD significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art re-ranking strategies and the unsupervised baseline. The empirical analysis shows that the trained meta-policy is transferable and inherently achieves a balance between long-term and short-term rewards.

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