Outskewer: Using Skewness to Spot Outliers in Samples and Time Series

By Sébastien Heymann, Matthieu Latapy, Clémence Magnien

Proceedings of the 2012 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM 2012), Istanbul, Turkey

Abstract

Finding outliers in datasets is a classical problem of high interest for (dynamic) social network analysis. However, most methods rely on assumptions which are rarely met in practice, such as prior knowledge of some outliers or about normal behavior. We propose here Outskewer, a new approach based on the notion of skewness (a measure of the symmetry of a distribution) and its evolution when extremal values are removed one by one. Our method is easy to set up, it requires no prior knowledge on the system, and it may be used on-line. We illustrate its performance on two data sets representative of many use-cases: evolution of ego-centered views of the internet topology, and logs of queries entered into a search engine.

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