Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 252–291 | Cite as

Exact mean computation in dynamic time warping spaces

  • Markus Brill
  • Till Fluschnik
  • Vincent FroeseEmail author
  • Brijnesh Jain
  • Rolf Niedermeier
  • David Schultz


Averaging time series under dynamic time warping is an important tool for improving nearest-neighbor classifiers and formulating centroid-based clustering. The most promising approach poses time series averaging as the problem of minimizing a Fréchet function. Minimizing the Fréchet function is NP-hard and so far solved by several heuristics and inexact strategies. Our contributions are as follows: we first discuss some inaccuracies in the literature on exact mean computation in dynamic time warping spaces. Then we propose an exponential-time dynamic program for computing a global minimum of the Fréchet function. The proposed algorithm is useful for benchmarking and evaluating known heuristics. In addition, we present an exact polynomial-time algorithm for the special case of binary time series. Based on the proposed exponential-time dynamic program, we empirically study properties like uniqueness and length of a mean, which are of interest for devising better heuristics. Experimental evaluations indicate substantial deficits of state-of-the-art heuristics in terms of their output quality.


Time series analysis Fréchet function Dynamic programming Exact exponential-time algorithm Empirical evaluation of heuristics 



This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft under Grants JA 2109/4-1 and NI 369/13-2, and by a Feodor Lynen return fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The work on the theoretical part of this paper started at the research retreat of the Algorithmics and Computational Complexity group, TU Berlin, held at Boiensdorf, Baltic Sea, April 2017, with MB, TF, VF, and RN participating. We also thank the authors of the UCR Time Series Classification Archive for providing the data sets which we used in our experiments.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Brill
    • 1
  • Till Fluschnik
    • 2
  • Vincent Froese
    • 2
    Email author
  • Brijnesh Jain
    • 3
  • Rolf Niedermeier
    • 2
  • David Schultz
    • 3
  1. 1.Efficient AlgorithmsTU BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Algorithmics and Computational ComplexityTU BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Distributed Artificial Intelligence LaboratoryTU BerlinBerlinGermany

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