Using dynamic time warping self-organizing maps to characterize diurnal patterns in environmental exposures

Kenan Li, Katherine Sward, Huiyu Deng, John Morrison, Rima Habre, Meredith Franklin, Yao Yi Chiang, Jose Luis Ambite, John P. Wilson, Sandrah P. Eckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Advances in measurement technology are producing increasingly time-resolved environmental exposure data. We aim to gain new insights into exposures and their potential health impacts by moving beyond simple summary statistics (e.g., means, maxima) to characterize more detailed features of high-frequency time series data. This study proposes a novel variant of the Self-Organizing Map (SOM) algorithm called Dynamic Time Warping Self-Organizing Map (DTW-SOM) for unsupervised pattern discovery in time series. This algorithm uses DTW, a similarity measure that optimally aligns interior patterns of sequential data, both as the similarity measure and training guide of the neural network. We applied DTW-SOM to a panel study monitoring indoor and outdoor residential temperature and particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5) for 10 patients with asthma from 7 households near Salt Lake City, UT; the patients were followed for up to 373 days each. Compared to previous SOM algorithms using timestamp alignment on time series data, the DTW-SOM algorithm produced fewer quantization errors and more detailed diurnal patterns. DTW-SOM identified the expected typical diurnal patterns in outdoor temperature which varied by season, as well diurnal patterns in PM2.5 which may be related to daily asthma outcomes. In summary, DTW-SOM is an innovative feature engineering method that can be applied to highly time-resolved environmental exposures assessed by sensors to identify typical diurnal (or hourly or monthly) patterns and provide new insights into the health effects of environmental exposures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number24052
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

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