Forecasting with Sparse but Informative Variables: A Case Study in Predicting Blood Glucose


  • Harry Rubin-Falcone University of Michigan
  • Joyce Lee University of Michigan
  • Jenna Wiens University of Michigan



ML: Time-Series/Data Streams, APP: Healthcare, Medicine & Wellness, ML: Deep Neural Architectures


In time-series forecasting, future target values may be affected by both intrinsic and extrinsic effects. When forecasting blood glucose, for example, intrinsic effects can be inferred from the history of the target signal alone (i.e. blood glucose), but accurately modeling the impact of extrinsic effects requires auxiliary signals, like the amount of carbohydrates ingested. Standard forecasting techniques often assume that extrinsic and intrinsic effects vary at similar rates. However, when auxiliary signals are generated at a much lower frequency than the target variable (e.g., blood glucose measurements are made every 5 minutes, while meals occur once every few hours), even well-known extrinsic effects (e.g., carbohydrates increase blood glucose) may prove difficult to learn. To better utilize these sparse but informative variables (SIVs), we introduce a novel encoder/decoder forecasting approach that accurately learns the per-timepoint effect of the SIV, by (i) isolating it from intrinsic effects and (ii) restricting its learned effect based on domain knowledge. On a simulated dataset pertaining to the task of blood glucose forecasting, when the SIV is accurately recorded our approach outperforms baseline approaches in terms of rMSE (13.07 [95% CI: 11.77,14.16] vs. 14.14 [12.69,15.27]). In the presence of a corrupted SIV, the proposed approach can still result in lower error compared to the baseline but the advantage is reduced as noise increases. By isolating their effects and incorporating domain knowledge, our approach makes it possible to better utilize SIVs in forecasting.




How to Cite

Rubin-Falcone, H., Lee, J., & Wiens, J. (2023). Forecasting with Sparse but Informative Variables: A Case Study in Predicting Blood Glucose. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 37(8), 9650-9657.



AAAI Technical Track on Machine Learning III