Faculty Advisor

Elke Rundensteiner

Faculty Advisor

Mohamed Eltabakh

Faculty Advisor

Xiangnan Kong

Faculty Advisor

Tim Kraska


The dissertation focuses on scaling outlier detection to work both on huge static as well as on dynamic streaming datasets. Outliers are patterns in the data that do not conform to the expected behavior. Outlier detection techniques are broadly applied in applications ranging from credit fraud prevention, network intrusion detection to stock investment tactical planning. For such mission critical applications, a timely response often is of paramount importance. Yet the processing of outlier detection requests is of high algorithmic complexity and resource consuming. In this dissertation we investigate the challenges of detecting outliers in big data -- in particular caused by the high velocity of streaming data, the big volume of static data and the large cardinality of the input parameter space for tuning outlier mining algorithms. Effective optimization techniques are proposed to assure the responsiveness of outlier detection in big data. In this dissertation we first propose a novel optimization framework called LEAP to continuously detect outliers over data streams. The continuous discovery of outliers is critical for a large range of online applications that monitor high volume continuously evolving streaming data. LEAP encompasses two general optimization principles that utilize the rarity of the outliers and the temporal priority relationships among stream data points. Leveraging these two principles LEAP not only is able to continuously deliver outliers with respect to a set of popular outlier models, but also provides near real-time support for processing powerful outlier analytics workloads composed of large numbers of outlier mining requests with various parameter settings. Second, we develop a distributed approach to efficiently detect outliers over massive-scale static data sets. In this big data era, as the volume of the data advances to new levels, the power of distributed compute clusters must be employed to detect outliers in a short turnaround time. In this research, our approach optimizes key factors determining the efficiency of distributed data analytics, namely, communication costs and load balancing. In particular we prove the traditional frequency-based load balancing assumption is not effective. We thus design a novel cost-driven data partitioning strategy that achieves load balancing. Furthermore, we abandon the traditional one detection algorithm for all compute nodes approach and instead propose a novel multi-tactic methodology which adaptively selects the most appropriate algorithm for each node based on the characteristics of the data partition assigned to it. Third, traditional outlier detection systems process each individual outlier detection request instantiated with a particular parameter setting one at a time. This is not only prohibitively time-consuming for large datasets, but also tedious for analysts as they explore the data to hone in on the most appropriate parameter setting or on the desired results. We thus design an interactive outlier exploration paradigm that is not only able to answer traditional outlier detection requests in near real-time, but also offers innovative outlier analytics tools to assist analysts to quickly extract, interpret and understand the outliers of interest. Our experimental studies including performance evaluation and user studies conducted on real world datasets including stock, sensor, moving object, and Geolocation datasets confirm both the effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed approaches.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Computer Science

Project Type


Date Accepted





big data, outlier detection, data stream, distributed algorithm, data analytics