anomaly detection

In data mining, anomaly detection (or outlier detection) is the identification of items, events or observations which do not conform to an expected pattern or other items in a dataset. Typically the anomalous items will translate to some kind of problem such as bank fraud, a structural defect, medical problems or finding errors in text. Anomalies are also referred to as outliers, novelties, noise, deviations and exceptions. In particular in the context of abuse and network intrusion detection, the interesting objects are often not rare objects, but unexpected bursts in activity. This pattern does not adhere to the common statistical definition of an outlier as a rare object, and many outlier detection methods (in particular unsupervised methods) will fail on such data, unless it has been aggregated appropriately. Instead, a cluster analysis algorithm may be able to detect the micro clusters formed by these patterns. Three broad categories of anomaly detection techniques exist. Unsupervised anomaly detection techniques detect anomalies in an unlabeled test data set under the assumption that the majority of the instances in the data set are normal by looking for instances that seem to fit least to the remainder of the data set. Supervised anomaly detection techniques require a data set that has been labeled as “normal” and “abnormal” and involves training a classifier (the key difference to many other statistical classification problems is the inherent unbalanced nature of outlier detection). Semi-supervised anomaly detection techniques construct a model representing normal behavior from a given normal training data set, and then testing the likelihood of a test instance to be generated by the learnt model.