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Chapter 5

Use case: anomaly detection explained by football

It’s Sunday morning, you’re having your coffee and reading the paper as usual. As a football fan, you go to the sports page to see the latest match results and then something catches your eye (and you almost spill your coffee!) A second-division team has won the most competitive championship! How is this possible?

Spotting or discovering something unusual or strange enough to be noticed and give you a surprise is what we call anomaly detection (Cambridge Dictionary).

Anomaly detection is a technique that can be applied to different situations

(Dutta & Vallabhajosyula, 2017):

  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Detection of roaming abuse, revenue fraud and service interruptions
  • BANKING: Identifying abnormally high purchases/deposits and detecting cyber-intrusions
  • FINANCE AND INSURANCE: Detect and prevent fraudulent spening patterns and travel expenses
  • HEALTH: Detect fraud in claims and payments
  • INDUSTRY: Detect abnormal machine behaviour to prevent increased production costs
  • SOCIAL NETWORKS: Detect compromised accounts and bots that produce false reviews
  • NETWORK: Detect network intrusions
  • SMART HOME: Detect energy leaks
  • VIDEO SURVEILLANCE: Detect or track objects and people

But how can you use this technique to identify atypical events in your day to day business ?
We will first use the example of a football team to observe unexpected wins or losses, with unusual scores.

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