Navigating Concept Drift in Cellular Networks

LEAF: Navigating Concept Drift in Cellular Networks

Abstract. Operational networks commonly rely on machine learning models for many tasks, including detecting anomalies, inferring application performance, and forecasting demand. Yet, model accuracy can degrade due to concept drift, where either the relationships between features and the target to be predicted, or the features themselves change. Mitigating concept drift is an essential part of operationalizing machine learning models in general, but is of particular importance in networking’s highly dynamic deployment environments. In this paper, we first characterize concept drift in a large cellular network for a major metropolitan area in the United States. We find that concept drift occurs across many important key performance indicators (KPIs), independently of the model, training set size, and time interval—thus necessitating practical approaches to detect, explain, and mitigate it. We then show that frequent model retraining with newly available data is not sufficient to mitigate concept drift, and can even degrade model accuracy further. Finally, we develop a new methodology for concept drift mitigation, Local Error Approximation of Features (LEAF). LEAF works by detecting drift; explaining the features and time intervals that contribute the most to drift; and mitigating it using forgetting and over-sampling. We evaluate LEAF against industry-standard mitigation approaches (notably, periodic retraining) with more than four years of cellular KPI data. Our tests with a major cellular provider in the US show that LEAF consistently outperforms periodic and triggered re-training on complex, real-world data while reducing costly retraining operations.


Access the released dataset accompanying the paper at this page: LEAF Dataset

Citation bibtex

  title={LEAF: Navigating Concept Drift in Cellular Networks},
  author={Liu, Shinan and Bronzino, Francesco and Schmitt, Paul and Nitin Bhagoji, Arjun and Feamster, Nick and Crespo, Hector Garcia and Coyle, Timothy and Ward, Brian},
  journal={Proceedings of the ACM on Networking},