Dynamic time warping

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Not to be confused with the Time Warp mechanism for discrete event simulation, or the Time Warp Operating System that used this mechanism.
Dynamic Time Warping

In time series analysis, dynamic time warping (DTW) is an algorithm for measuring similarity between two temporal sequences which may vary in speed. For instance, similarities in walking could be detected using DTW, even if one person was walking faster than the other, or if there were accelerations and decelerations during the course of an observation. DTW has been applied to temporal sequences of video, audio, and graphics data — indeed, any data which can be turned into a linear sequence can be analyzed with DTW. A well known application has been automatic speech recognition, to cope with different speaking speeds. Other applications include speaker recognition and online signature recognition. Also it is seen that it can be used in partial shape matching application.

In general, DTW is a method that calculates an optimal match between two given sequences (e.g. time series) with certain restrictions. The sequences are "warped" non-linearly in the time dimension to determine a measure of their similarity independent of certain non-linear variations in the time dimension. This sequence alignment method is often used in time series classification. Although DTW measures a distance-like quantity between two given sequences, it doesn't guarantee the triangle inequality to hold.

In addition to a similarity measure between the two sequences, a so called "warping path" is produced, by warping according to this path the two signals may be aligned in time. The signal with an original set of points X(original), Y(original) is transformed to X(warped), Y(original). This finds applications in genetic sequence and audio synchronisation. In a related technique sequences of varying speed may be averaged using this technique see the average sequence section.


This example illustrates the implementation of the dynamic time warping algorithm when the two sequences s and t are strings of discrete symbols. For two symbols x and y, d(x, y) is a distance between the symbols, e.g. d(x, y) =

int DTWDistance(s: array [1..n], t: array [1..m]) {
   DTW := array [0..n, 0..m]

   for i := 1 to n
       DTW[i, 0] := infinity
   for i := 1 to m
       DTW[0, i] := infinity
   DTW[0, 0] := 0

   for i := 1 to n
       for j := 1 to m
           cost := d(s[i], t[j])
           DTW[i, j] := cost + minimum(DTW[i-1, j  ],    // insertion
                                       DTW[i  , j-1],    // deletion
                                       DTW[i-1, j-1])    // match

   return DTW[n, m]

We sometimes want to add a locality constraint. That is, we require that if s[i] is matched with t[j], then is no larger than w, a window parameter.

We can easily modify the above algorithm to add a locality constraint (differences marked in bold italic). However, the above given modification works only if is no larger than w, i.e. the end point is within the window length from diagonal. In order to make the algorithm work, the window parameter w must be adapted so that (see the line marked with (*) in the code).

int DTWDistance(s: array [1..n], t: array [1..m], w: int) {
    DTW := array [0..n, 0..m]
    w := max(w, abs(n-m)) // adapt window size (*)
    for i := 0 to n
        for j:= 0 to m
            DTW[i, j] := infinity
    DTW[0, 0] := 0

    for i := 1 to n
        for j := max(1, i-w) to min(m, i+w)
            cost := d(s[i], t[j])
            DTW[i, j] := cost + minimum(DTW[i-1, j  ],    // insertion
                                        DTW[i  , j-1],    // deletion
                                        DTW[i-1, j-1])    // match
    return DTW[n, m]

Fast computation[edit]

Computing the DTW requires in general. Fast techniques for computing DTW include PrunedDTW,[1] SparseDTW,[2] FastDTW,[3] and the MultiscaleDTW.[4][5] A common task, retrieval of similar time series, can be accelerated by using lower bounds such as LB_Keogh[6] or LB_Improved.[7] In a survey, Wang et al. reported slightly better results with the LB_Improved lower bound than the LB_Keogh bound, and found that other techniques were inefficient.[8]

Average sequence[edit]

Averaging for Dynamic Time Warping is the problem of finding an average sequence for a set of sequences. The average sequence is the sequence that minimizes the sum of the squares to the set of objects. NLAAF[9] is the exact method for two sequences. For more than two sequences, the problem is related to the one of the Multiple alignment and requires heuristics. DBA[10] is currently the reference method to average a set of sequences consistently with DTW. COMASA[11] efficiently randomizes the search for the average sequence, using DBA as a local optimization process.

Supervised Learning[edit]

A Nearest Neighbour Classifier can achieve state-of-the-art performance when using Dynamic Time Warping as a distance measure.[12]

Alternative approach[edit]

An alternative technique for DTW is based on functional data analysis, in which the time series are regarded as discretizations of smooth (differentiable) functions of time and therefore continuous mathematics is applied.[13] Optimal nonlinear time warping functions are computed by minimizing a measure of distance of the set of functions to their warped average. Roughness penalty terms for the warping functions may be added, e.g., by constraining the size of their curvature. The resultant warping functions are smooth, which facilitates further processing. This approach has been successfully applied to analyze patterns and variability of speech movements.[14][15]

Open Source software[edit]

  • The lbimproved C++ library implements Fast Nearest-Neighbor Retrieval algorithms under the GNU General Public License (GPL). It also provides a C++ implementation of Dynamic Time Warping as well as various lower bounds.
  • The FastDTW library is a Java implementation of DTW and a FastDTW implementation that provides optimal or near-optimal alignments with an O(N) time and memory complexity, in contrast to the O(N^2) requirement for the standard DTW algorithm. FastDTW uses a multilevel approach that recursively projects a solution from a coarser resolution and refines the projected solution..
  • FastDTW fork (Java) published to Maven Central
  • The R package dtw implements most known variants of the DTW algorithm family, including a variety of recursion rules (also called step patterns), constraints, and substring matching.
  • The mlpy Python library implements DTW.
  • The pydtw C++/Python library implements the Manhattan and Euclidean flavoured DTW measures including the LB_Keogh lower bounds.
  • The cudadtw C++/CUDA library implements subsequence alignment of Euclidean-flavoured DTW and z-normalized Euclidean Distance similar to the popular UCR-Suite on CUDA-enabled accelerators.
  • The JavaML machine learning library implements DTW.
  • The ndtw C#library implements DTW with various options.
  • Sketch-a-Char uses Greedy DTW (implemented in JavaScript) as part of LaTeX symbol classifier program.
  • The MatchBox implements DTW to match Mel-Frequency Cepstral Coefficients of audio signals.
  • Sequence averaging: a GPL Java implementation of DBA.[10]
  • C/Python library implements DTW with some variations(distance functions, step patterns and windows)
  • The GRT C++ real-time Gesture Recognition Toolkit implements DTW.
  • The PyHubs software package implements DTW and nearest neighbour classifiers as well as their extensions (hubness-aware classifiers).


Spoken word recognition[edit]

Due to different speaking rates, a non-linear fluctuation occurs in speech pattern versus time axis which needs to be eliminated.[16] DP-matching is a dynamic programming (DP) based pattern matching algorithm which uses a time normalization effect where the fluctuations in the time axis are modeled using a non-linear time-warping function. Considering any two speech patterns, we can get rid of their timing differences by warping the time axis of one so that the maximum coincidence is attained with the other. Moreover, if the warping function is allowed to take any possible value, very less distinction can be made between words belonging to different categories. So, to enhance the distinction between words belonging to different categories, restrictions were imposed on the warping function slope.

Correlation Power Analysis[edit]

Unstable clocks are used to defeat naive power analysis. Several techniques are used to counter this defense, one of which is dynamic time warp.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Silva, D.F. & Batista, G.E.A.P.A. (2015). Speeding Up All-Pairwise Dynamic Time Warping Matrix Calculation
  2. ^ Al-Naymat, G., Chawla, S., & Taheri, J. (2012). SparseDTW: A Novel Approach to Speed up Dynamic Time Warping
  3. ^ Stan Salvador & Philip Chan, FastDTW: Toward Accurate Dynamic Time Warping in Linear Time and Space. KDD Workshop on Mining Temporal and Sequential Data, pp. 70-80, 2004
  4. ^ Meinard Müller, Henning Mattes, and Frank Kurth (2006). An Efficient Multiscale Approach to Audio Synchronization. Proceedings of the International Conference on Music Information Retrieval (ISMIR), pp. 192—197
  5. ^ Thomas Prätzlich, Jonathan Driedger, and Meinard Müller (2016). Memory-Restricted Multiscale Dynamic Time Warping. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP), pp. 569—573
  6. ^ Keogh, E.; Ratanamahatana, C. A. (2005). "Exact indexing of dynamic time warping". Knowledge and Information Systems. 7 (3): 358–386. doi:10.1007/s10115-004-0154-9. 
  7. ^ Lemire, D. (2009). "Faster Retrieval with a Two-Pass Dynamic-Time-Warping Lower Bound". Pattern Recognition. 42 (9): 2169–2180. arXiv:0811.3301Freely accessible. doi:10.1016/j.patcog.2008.11.030. 
  8. ^ Wang, Xiaoyue; et al. "Experimental comparison of representation methods and distance measures for time series data". Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery. 2010: 1–35. 
  9. ^ Gupta, L.; Molfese, D. L.; Tammana, R.; Simos, P. G. (1996). "Nonlinear alignment and averaging for estimating the evoked potential". IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. 43 (4): 348–356. doi:10.1109/10.486255. PMID 8626184. 
  10. ^ a b Petitjean, F. O.; Ketterlin, A.; Gançarski, P. (2011). "A global averaging method for dynamic time warping, with applications to clustering". Pattern Recognition. 44 (3): 678. doi:10.1016/j.patcog.2010.09.013. 
  11. ^ Petitjean, F. O.; Gançarski, P. (2012). "Summarizing a set of time series by averaging: From Steiner sequence to compact multiple alignment". Theoretical Computer Science. 414: 76. doi:10.1016/j.tcs.2011.09.029. 
  12. ^ Ding, Hui; Trajcevski, Goce; Scheuermann, Peter; Wang, Xiaoyue; Keogh, Eamonn (2008). "Querying and mining of time series data: experimental comparison of representations and distance measures". Proc. VLDB Endow. 1 (2): 1542–1552. doi:10.14778/1454159.1454226. 
  13. ^ Lucero, J. C.; Munhall, K. G.; Gracco, V. G.; Ramsay, J. O. (1997). "On the Registration of Time and the Patterning of Speech Movements". Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 40: 1111–1117. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4005.1111. 
  14. ^ Howell, P.; Anderson, A.; Lucero, J. C. (2010). "Speech motor timing and fluency". In Maassen, B.; van Lieshout, P. Speech Motor Control: New Developments in Basic and Applied Research. Oxford University Press. pp. 215–225. ISBN 978-0199235797. 
  15. ^ Koenig, Laura L.; Lucero, Jorge C.; Perlman, Elizabeth (2008). "Speech production variability in fricatives of children and adults: Results of functional data analysis". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 124 (5): 3158–3170. doi:10.1121/1.2981639. ISSN 0001-4966. PMC 2677351Freely accessible. PMID 19045800. 
  16. ^ Sakoe, Hiroaki; Chiba, Seibi. "Dynamic programming algorithm optimization for spoken word recognition". IEEE Transactions on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing. 26 (1): 43–49. doi:10.1109/tassp.1978.1163055. 

Further reading[edit]