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Human-in-the-loop Outlier Detection

Outlier detection is critical to a large number of applications from finance fraud detection to health care. Although numerous approaches have been proposed to automatically detect outliers, such outliers detected based on statistical rarity do not necessarily correspond to the true outliers to the interest of applications. In this work, we propose a human-in-the-loop outlier detection approach HOD that effectively leverages human intelligence to discover the true outliers. There are two main challenges in HOD. The first is to design human-friendly questions such that humans can easily understand the questions even if humans know nothing about the outlier detection techniques. The second is to minimize the number of questions. To address the first challenge, we design a clustering-based method to effectively discover a small number of objects that are unlikely to be outliers (aka, inliers) and yet effectively represent the typical characteristics of the given dataset. HOD then leverages this set of inliers (called context inliers) to help humans understand the context in which the outliers occur. This ensures humans are able to easily identify the true outliers from the outlier candidates produced by the machine-based outlier detection techniques. To address the second challenge, we propose a bipartite graph-based question selection strategy that is theoretically proven to be able to minimize the number of questions needed to cover all outlier candidates. Our experimental results on real data sets show that HOD significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art methods on both human efforts and the quality of the discovered outliers.
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