A survey on outlier explanations

Egawati Panjei, Le Gruenwald, Eleazar Leal, Christopher Nguyen, Shejuti Silvia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


While many techniques for outlier detection have been proposed in the literature, the interpretation of detected outliers is often left to users. As a result, it is difficult for users to promptly take appropriate actions concerning the detected outliers. To lessen this difficulty, when outliers are identified, they should be presented together with their explanations. There are survey papers on outlier detection, but none exists for outlier explanations. To fill this gap, in this paper, we present a survey on outlier explanations in which meaningful knowledge is mined from anomalous data to explain them. We define different types of outlier explanations and discuss the challenges in generating each type. We review the existing outlier explanation techniques and discuss how they address the challenges. We also discuss the applications of outlier explanations and review the existing methods used to evaluate outlier explanations. Furthermore, we discuss possible future research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)977-1008
Number of pages32
JournalVLDB Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Anomaly analysis
  • Outlier description
  • Outlier detection
  • Outlier explanation
  • Outlier interpretation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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