A probabilistic approach to detect mixed periodic patterns from moving object data

Jun Li, Jingjing Wang, Junfei Zhang, Qiming Qin, Tanvi Jindal, Jiawei Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The prevalence of moving object data (MOD) brings new opportunities for behavior related research. Periodic behavior is one of the most important behaviors of moving objects. However, the existing methods of detecting periodicities assume a moving object either does not have any periodic behavior at all or just has a single periodic behavior in one place. Thus they are incapable of dealing with many real world situations whereby a moving object may have multiple periodic behaviors mixed together. Aiming at addressing this problem, this paper proposes a probabilistic periodicity detection method called MPDA. MPDA first identifies high dense regions by the kernel density method, then generates revisit time sequences based on the dense regions, and at last adopts a filter-refine paradigm to detect mixed periodicities. At the filter stage, candidate periods are identified by comparing the observed and reference distribution of revisit time intervals using the chi-square test, and at the refine stage, a periodic degree measure is defined to examine the significance of candidate periods to identify accurate periods existing in MOD. Synthetic datasets with various characteristics and two real world tracking datasets validate the effectiveness of MPDA under various scenarios. MPDA has the potential to play an important role in analyzing complicated behaviors of moving objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-739
Number of pages25
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Mixed periodic patterns
  • Moving object data
  • Periodic behavior
  • Periodicity detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Information Systems


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