Forecast Evaluation Metrics For Assessing Time Series Predictions In Pyflux

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Written By Luke Gilbert

Luke Gilbert is the voice behind many of Pyflux's insightful articles. Luke's knack for simplifying complicated time series concepts is what propels him to explore the tangled web of numbers, patterns, and forecasts.

Have you ever wondered how accurate your time series predictions are? In the world of forecasting, it is crucial to have reliable metrics to evaluate the performance of our models. That’s where forecast evaluation metrics come into play. In this article, I will be exploring some key evaluation metrics specifically designed for assessing time series predictions in Pyflux, a popular library for probabilistic time series modeling in Python.

We will dive into the Mean Absolute Error (MAE), Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE), and Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE) – all widely used measures that give us insights into the accuracy and precision of our forecasts. Additionally, we will also explore two information criteria – Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) and Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) – which provide a way to compare different models based on their goodness-of-fit and complexity.

So if you’re interested in improving your forecasting skills or simply want to have a better understanding of how well your predictions hold up against reality, join me as we delve into these essential forecast evaluation metrics in Pyflux.

Mean Absolute Error (MAE)

The Mean Absolute Error (MAE) is a handy metric in pyflux for evaluating time series predictions, allowing you to quickly assess the accuracy of your forecasts and make improvements as needed. It measures the average absolute difference between the predicted values and the actual values in a time series. This means that MAE provides a straightforward measure of how far off your forecasts are on average.

To calculate MAE, you simply take the absolute difference between each predicted value and its corresponding actual value, sum them up, and divide by the number of observations. This gives you an overall measure of how well your model is performing.

One advantage of using MAE as an evaluation metric is that it treats all forecast errors equally, regardless of their direction. This makes it particularly useful when you want to focus on minimizing overall forecasting error rather than specifically targeting overestimation or underestimation.

However, one limitation of MAE is that it does not take into account the magnitude or directionality of individual forecast errors. In some cases, this may not be ideal if certain errors are more critical than others.

Overall, the Mean Absolute Error (MAE) provides a simple yet effective way to evaluate time series predictions in pyflux and guide your forecasting improvements based on its results.

Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE)

Imagine you’re a weather forecaster and you want to measure how accurate your temperature predictions have been. One way to do this is by calculating the Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE), which gives you an idea of how close your forecasts are to the actual temperatures.

RMSE is a popular metric for evaluating forecast accuracy because it takes into account both the magnitude and direction of errors. It calculates the average difference between your predicted values and the actual values, squared, and then takes the square root of that average.

By squaring the differences before averaging them, RMSE emphasizes larger errors more than MAE does. This means that if there are some extreme outliers in your predictions, they will have a bigger impact on RMSE compared to MAE.

RMSE provides a single number that represents how well your forecasts match the true values. The lower the RMSE value, the better your forecasts are at capturing the underlying patterns in the data.

However, like any evaluation metric, RMSE should not be used in isolation. It’s important to consider other metrics such as MAE or percentage errors to get a comprehensive understanding of forecast performance.

Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE)

To truly understand the accuracy of my temperature predictions, I need to consider the Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE) as it provides a comprehensive assessment of how well my forecasts match the actual values. Unlike other evaluation metrics like RMSE, MAPE takes into account the percentage difference between predicted and actual values, giving a more meaningful measure of error.

MAPE is calculated by taking the absolute percentage difference between each forecasted value and its corresponding actual value, and then averaging these differences across all observations. This metric is particularly useful when dealing with time series data that have varying scales or magnitudes.

By using MAPE, I can gain insights into whether my predictions are consistently overestimating or underestimating the actual values. Additionally, it allows me to compare the accuracy of different forecasting models or techniques.

One limitation of MAPE is that it becomes undefined when there are zero or close-to-zero actual values. In such cases, alternative metrics like Symmetric Mean Absolute Percentage Error (SMAPE) may be more appropriate.

Overall, incorporating MAPE in my evaluation process helps me assess the performance of my time series predictions in a robust and informative manner.

Akaike Information Criterion (AIC)

You can use the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) to compare different models and determine which one provides a better fit for your data. For example, let’s say you are trying to forecast stock prices using two different models: a linear regression model and an ARIMA model. By calculating the AIC for each model, you can see which one has a lower value, indicating a better fit and potentially more accurate predictions.

The AIC takes into account both the goodness of fit of the model and its complexity. It penalizes models with more parameters, favoring those that achieve a good fit with fewer parameters. This is important because including unnecessary parameters in your model can lead to overfitting and poor out-of-sample performance.

To calculate the AIC, you start by fitting your models to your historical data and calculating their respective log-likelihoods. Then, you add a penalty term based on the number of parameters in each model. The final AIC value is obtained by taking twice the negative log-likelihood plus twice the number of parameters.

By comparing the AIC values of different models, you can objectively assess their relative performance and choose the one that offers the best trade-off between goodness of fit and simplicity.

Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC)

The Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) provides a measure to compare the performance of different models by considering both goodness of fit and model complexity. It is similar to the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC), but with a penalty for more complex models.

Three key points about BIC are:

  • BIC penalizes models with more parameters, discouraging overfitting. This helps to prevent the selection of overly complex models that may not generalize well to new data.
  • BIC takes into account both the likelihood function and the number of parameters in the model, striking a balance between fit and complexity.
  • Lower values of BIC indicate better fitting and more parsimonious models.

To calculate BIC, we need to estimate or know the log-likelihood function and the number of parameters in our model. The formula for calculating BIC is:

BIC = -2 log-likelihood + k log(n)

Where k represents the number of estimated parameters in our model, n represents the number of observations in our dataset, and log-likelihood is calculated using maximum likelihood estimation.

By comparing BIC values across different models, we can determine which model provides a better trade-off between goodness of fit and complexity, allowing us to make informed decisions in time series forecasting.


In conclusion, when it comes to evaluating time series predictions in Pyflux, there are several metrics that can be used. The Mean Absolute Error (MAE) and Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) provide a measure of the average magnitude of prediction errors. The Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE) accounts for the relative error between predicted and actual values. Additionally, the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) and Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) offer a statistical approach to model selection. By employing these evaluation metrics, users can make informed decisions about the accuracy and performance of their time series predictions in Pyflux. As the saying goes, "Numbers don’t lie," so let these metrics guide you towards improved forecasting results.