Data pre-processing for neural network-based forecasting: does it really matter?
This study aims to analyze the effects of data pre-processing on the forecasting performance of neural network models. We use three different Artificial Neural Networks techniques to predict tourist demand: multi-layer perceptron, radial basis function and the Elman neural networks. The structure of the networks is based on a multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) approach. We use official statistical data of inbound international tourism demand to Catalonia (Spain) and compare the forecasting accuracy of four processing methods for the input vector of the networks: levels, growth rates, seasonally adjusted levels and seasonally adjusted growth rates. When comparing the forecasting accuracy of the different inputs for each visitor market and for different forecasting horizons, we obtain significantly better forecasts with levels than with growth rates. We also find that seasonally adjusted series significantly improve the forecasting performance of the networks, which hints at the significance of deseasonalizing the time series when using neural networks with forecasting purposes. These results reveal that, when using seasonal data, neural networks performance can be significantly improved by working directly with seasonally adjusted levels.
First published online: 04 Nov 2015
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.