Selecting the Hyperparameters

NeuralProphet has a number of hyperparameters that need to be specified by the user. If not specified, default values for these hyperparameters will be used. They are as follows.

Parameter Default Value
growth linear
changepoints None
n_changepoints 5
changepoints_range 0.8
trend_reg 0
trend_reg_threshold False
yearly_seasonality auto
weekly_seasonality auto
daily_seasonality auto
seasonality_mode additive
seasonality_reg None
n_forecasts 1
n_lags 0
num_hidden_layers 0
d_hidden None
ar_sparsity None
learning_rate None
epochs None
batch_size None
loss_func Huber
train_speed None
normalize_y auto
impute_missing True

Forecast horizon

n_forecasts is the size of the forecast horizon. The default value of 1 means that the model forecasts one step into the future.


n_lags defines whether the AR-Net is enabled (if n_lags > 0) or not. The value for n_lags is usually recommended to be greater than n_forecasts, if possible since it is preferable for the FFNNs to encounter at least n_forecasts length of the past in order to predict n_forecasts into the future. Thus, n_lags determine how far into the past the auto-regressive dependencies should be considered. This could be a value chosen based on either domain expertise or an empirical analysis.

NeuralProphet is fit with stochastic gradient descent - more precisely, with an AdamW optimizer and a One-Cycle policy. If the parameter learning_rate is not specified, a learning rate range test is conducted to determine the optimal learning rate. The epochs and the loss_func are two other parameters that directly affect the model training process. If not defined, both are automatically set based on the dataset size. They are set in a manner that controls the total number training steps to be around 1000 to 4000.

If it looks like the model is overfitting to the training data (the live loss plot can be useful hereby), you can reduce epochs and learning_rate, and potentially increase the batch_size. If it is underfitting, the number of epochs and learning_rate can be increased and the batch_size potentially decreased.

The default loss function is the 'Huber' loss, which is considered to be robust to outliers. However, you are free to choose the standard MSE or any other PyTorch torch.nn.modules.loss loss function.

Increasing Depth of the Model

num_hidden_layers defines the number of hidden layers of the FFNNs used in the overall model. This includes the AR-Net and the FFNN of the lagged regressors. The default is 0, meaning that the FFNNs will have only one final layer of size n_forecasts. Adding more layers results in increased complexity and also increased computational time, consequently. However, the added number of hidden layers can help build more complex relationships especially useful for the lagged regressors. To tradeoff between the computational complexity and the improved accuracy the num_hidden_layers is recommended to be set in between 1-2. Nevertheless, in most cases a good enough performance can be achieved by having no hidden layers at all.

d_hidden is the number of units in the hidden layers. This is only considered if num_hidden_layers is specified, otherwise ignored. The default value for d_hidden if not specified is (n_lags + n_forecasts). If tuned manually, the recommended practice is to set a value in between n_lags and n_forecasts for d_hidden. It is also important to note that with the current implementation, NeuralProphet sets the same d_hidden for the all the hidden layers.

normalize_y is about scaling the time series before modelling. By default, NeuralProphet performs a (soft) min-max normalization of the time series. Normalization can help the model training process if the series values fluctuate heavily. However, if the series does not such scaling, users can turn this off or select another normalization.

impute_missing is about imputing the missing values in a given series. S imilar to Prophet, NeuralProphet too can work with missing values when it is in the regression mode without the AR-Net. However, when the autocorrelation needs to be captured, it is necessary for the missing values to be imputed, since then the modelling becomes an ordered problem. Letting this parameter at its default can get the job done perfectly in most cases.

You can find a hands-on example at example_notebooks/trend_peyton_manning.ipynb.

The trend flexibility if primarily controlled by n_changepoints, which sets the number of points where the trend rate may change. Additionally, the trend rate changes can be regularized by setting trend_reg to a value greater zero.
This is a useful feature that can be used to automatically detect relevant changepoints.

changepoints_range controls the range of training data used to fit the trend. The default value of 0.8 means that no changepoints are set in the last 20 percent of training data.

If a list of changepoints is supplied, n_changepoints and changepoints_range are ignored. This list is instead used to set the dates at which the trend rate is allowed to change.

n_changepoints is the number of changepoints selected along the series for the trend. The default value for this is 5.

yearly_seasonality, weekly_seasonality and daily_seasonality are about which seasonal components to be modelled. For example, if you use temperature data, you can probably select daily and yearly. Using number of passengers using the subway would more likely have a weekly seasonality for example. Setting these seasonalities at the default auto mode, lets NeuralProphet decide which of them to include depending on how much data available. For example, the yearly seasonality will not be considered if less than two years data available. In the same manner, the weekly seasonality will not be considered if less than two weeks available etc... However, if the user if certain that the series does not include yearly, weekly or daily seasonality, and thus the model should not be distorted by such components, they can explicitly turn them off by setting the respective components to False. Apart from that, the parameters yearly_seasonality, weekly_seasonality and daily_seasonality can also be set to number of Fourier terms of the respective seasonalities. The defaults are 6 for yearly, 4 for weekly and 6 for daily. Users can set this to any number they want. If the number of terms is 6 for yearly, that effectively makes the total number of Fourier terms for the yearly seasonality 12 (6*2), to accommodate both sine and cosine terms. Increasing the number of Fourier terms can make the model capable of capturing quite complex seasonal patterns. However, similar to the num_hidden_layers, this too results in added model complexity. Users can get some insights about the optimal number of Fourier terms by looking at the final component plots. The default seasonality_mode is additive. This means that no heteroscedasticity is expected in the series in terms of the seasonality. However, if the series contains clear variance, where the seasonal fluctuations become larger proportional to the trend, the seasonality_mode can be set to multiplicative.

NeuralProphet also contains a number of regularization parameters to control the model coefficients and introduce sparsity into the model. This also helps avoid overfitting of the model to the training data. For seasonality_reg, small values in the range 0.1-1 allow to fit large seasonal fluctuations whereas large values in the range 1-100 impose a heavier penalty on the Fourier coefficients and thus dampens the seasonality. For ar_sparsity values in the range 0-1 are expected with 0 inducing complete sparsity and 1 imposing no regularization at all. ar_sparsity along with n_lags can be used for data exploration and feature selection. You can use a larger number of lags thanks to the scalability of AR-Net and use the scarcity to identify important influence of past time steps on the prediction accuracy. For future_regressor_regularization, event_regularization and country_holiday_regularization, values can be set in between 0-1 in the same notion as in ar_sparsity. You can set different regularization parameters for the individual regressors and events depending on which ones need to be more dampened.