Regions of Reliability in the Evaluation of Multivariate Probabilistic Forecasts


Multivariate probabilistic time series forecasts are commonly evaluated via proper scoring rules, i.e., functions that are minimal in expectation for the ground-truth distribution. However, this property is not sufficient to guarantee good discrimination in the non-asymptotic regime. In this paper, we provide the first systematic finite-sample study of proper scoring rules for time series forecasting evaluation. Through a power analysis, we identify the ``region of reliability’’ of a scoring rule, i.e., the set of practical conditions where it can be relied on to identify forecasting errors. We carry out our analysis on a comprehensive synthetic benchmark, specifically designed to test several key discrepancies between ground-truth and forecast distributions, and we gauge the generalizability of our findings to real-world tasks with an application to an electricity production problem. Our results reveal critical shortcomings in the evaluation of multivariate probabilistic forecasts as commonly performed in the literature.

40th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2023)