Predicting the Present with Bayesian Structural Time Series
Posted: 1 Aug 2013
Date Written: June 28, 2013
This article describes a system for short term forecasting based on an ensemble prediction that averages over different combinations of predictors. The system combines a structural time series model for the target series with regression component capturing the contributions of contemporaneous search query data. A spike-and-slab prior on the regression coefficients induces sparsity, dramatically reducing the size of the regression problem. Our system averages over potential contributions from a very large set of models and gives easily digested reports of which coefficients are likely to be important. We illustrate with applications to initial claims for unemployment benefits and to retail sales. Although our exposition focuses on using search engine data to forecast economic time series, the underlying statistical methods can be applied to more general short term forecasting with large numbers of contemporaneous predictors.
Keywords: forecasting, Bayesian methods, model selection
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