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ForecastPFN: Synthetically-Trained Zero-Shot Forecasting

Samuel Dooley · Gurnoor Singh Khurana · Chirag Mohapatra · Siddartha V Naidu · Colin White

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1001
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Thu 14 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


The vast majority of time-series forecasting approaches require a substantial training dataset. However, many real-life forecasting applications have very little initial observations, sometimes just 40 or fewer. Thus, the applicability of most forecasting methods is restricted in data-sparse commercial applications. While there is recent work in the setting of very limited initial data (so-called `zero-shot' forecasting), its performance is inconsistent depending on the data used for pretraining. In this work, we take a different approach and devise ForecastPFN, the first zero-shot forecasting model trained purely on a novel synthetic data distribution. ForecastPFN is a prior-data fitted network, trained to approximate Bayesian inference, which can make predictions on a new time series dataset in a single forward pass. Through extensive experiments, we show that zero-shot predictions made by ForecastPFN are more accurate and faster compared to state-of-the-art forecasting methods, even when the other methods are allowed to train on hundreds of additional in-distribution data points.

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