I have a graph input where the X axis is time (going forwards). The Y axis is generally stable but has large drops and raises at different points (marked as the red arrows below)
Visually it's obvious but how do I efficiently detect this from within code? I'm not sure which algorithms I should be using but I would like to keep it as simple as possible.
Best How To :
A simple way is to calculate the difference between every two neighbouring samples, eg diff= abs(y[x point 1] - y[x point 0]) and calculate the standard deviation for all the differences. This will rank the differences in order for you and also help eliminate random noise which you get if you just sample largest diff values.
If your up/down values are over several x periods ( eg temp plotted every minute ), then calculate the diff over N samples, taking the max and min from the N samples. If you want 5 samples to be the detection period, then get samples 0,1,2,3,4 and extract min/max, use those for diff. Repeat for samples 1,2,3,4,5 and so on. You may need to play with this as too many samples starts affecting stddev.
An alternative method is to calculate the slope of up/down parts of the chart by subsampling and selecting slopes and lengths that are interesting. While this can be more accurate for automated detection it is much harder to describe the algorithm in depth.
I've worked on similar issues and built a chart categoriser, but would really love references to research in this area.
When you get this going, you may also want to look at 'control charts' from operations research, they identify several patterns that might also be worth detecting, depending on what your charts are of.