How to Create an ARIMA Model for Time Series Forecasting in Python

A popular and widely used statistical method for time series forecasting is the ARIMA model.

ARIMA is an acronym that stands for AutoRegressive Integrated Moving Average. It is a class of model that captures a suite of different standard temporal structures in time series data.

In this tutorial, you will discover how to develop an ARIMA model for time series data with Python.

After completing this tutorial, you will know:

  • About the ARIMA model the parameters used and assumptions made by the model.
  • How to fit an ARIMA model to data and use it to make forecasts.
  • How to configure the ARIMA model on your time series problem.

Let’s get started.

Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average Model

An ARIMA model is a class of statistical models for analyzing and forecasting time series data.

It explicitly caters to a suite of standard structures in time series data, and as such provides a simple yet powerful method for making skillful time series forecasts.

ARIMA is an acronym that stands for AutoRegressive Integrated Moving Average. It is a generalization of the simpler AutoRegressive Moving Average and adds the notion of integration.

This acronym is descriptive, capturing the key aspects of the model itself. Briefly, they are:

  • ARAutoregression. A model that uses the dependent relationship between an observation and some number of lagged observations.
  • IIntegrated. The use of differencing of raw observations (e.g. subtracting an observation from an observation at the previous time step) in order to make the time series stationary.
  • MAMoving Average. A model that uses the dependency between an observation and a residual error from a moving average model applied to lagged observations.

Each of these components are explicitly specified in the model as a parameter. A standard notation is used of ARIMA(p,d,q) where the parameters are substituted with integer values to quickly indicate the specific ARIMA model being used.

The parameters of the ARIMA model are defined as follows:

  • p: The number of lag observations included in the model, also called the lag order.
  • d: The number of times that the raw observations are differenced, also called the degree of differencing.
  • q: The size of the moving average window, also called the order of moving average.

A linear regression model is constructed including the specified number and type of terms, and the data is prepared by a degree of differencing in order to make it stationary, i.e. to remove trend and seasonal structures that negatively affect the regression model.

A value of 0 can be used for a parameter, which indicates to not use that element of the model. This way, the ARIMA model can be configured to perform the function of an ARMA model, and even a simple AR, I, or MA model.

Adopting an ARIMA model for a time series assumes that the underlying process that generated the observations is an ARIMA process. This may seem obvious, but helps to motivate the need to confirm the assumptions of the model in the raw observations and in the residual errors of forecasts from the model.

Next, let’s take a look at how we can use the ARIMA model in Python. We will start with loading a simple univariate time series.

Shampoo Sales Dataset

This dataset describes the monthly number of sales of shampoo over a 3 year period.

The units are a sales count and there are 36 observations. The original dataset is credited to Makridakis, Wheelwright, and Hyndman (1998).

Learn more about the dataset and download it from here.

Download the dataset and place it in your current working directory with the filename “shampoo-sales.csv“.

Below is an example of loading the Shampoo Sales dataset with Pandas with a custom function to parse the date-time field. The dataset is baselined in an arbitrary year, in this case 1900.

[sourcecode language=”python” wraplines=”false” collapse=”false”]
from pandas import read_csv
from pandas import datetime
from matplotlib import pyplot

def parser(x):
return datetime.strptime(‘190’+x, %Y-%m)

series = read_csv(‘shampoo-sales.csv’, header = 0, parse_dates = [0], index_col = 0, squeeze = True, date_parser = parser)

Running the example prints the first 5 rows of the dataset.

The data is also plotted as a time series with the month along the x-axis and sales figures on the y-axis.

Shampoo Sales Dataset Plot

We can see that the Shampoo Sales dataset has a clear trend.

This suggests that the time series is not stationary and will require differencing to make it stationary, at least a difference order of 1.

Let’s also take a quick look at an autocorrelation plot of the time series. This is also built-in to Pandas. The example below plots the autocorrelation for a large number of lags in the time series.

Running the example, we can see that there is a positive correlation with the first 10-to-12 lags that is perhaps significant for the first 5 lags.

A good starting point for the AR parameter of the model may be 5.

Autocorrelation Plot of Shampoo Sales Data

ARIMA with Python

The statsmodels library provides the capability to fit an ARIMA model.

An ARIMA model can be created using the statsmodels library as follows:

  1. Define the model by calling ARIMA() and passing in the pd, and q parameters.
  2. The model is prepared on the training data by calling the fit() function.
  3. Predictions can be made by calling the predict() function and specifying the index of the time or times to be predicted.

Let’s start off with something simple. We will fit an ARIMA model to the entire Shampoo Sales dataset and review the residual errors.

First, we fit an ARIMA(5,1,0) model. This sets the lag value to 5 for autoregression, uses a difference order of 1 to make the time series stationary, and uses a moving average model of 0.

When fitting the model, a lot of debug information is provided about the fit of the linear regression model. We can turn this off by setting the disp argument to 0.

Running the example prints a summary of the fit model. This summarizes the coefficient values used as well as the skill of the fit on the on the in-sample observations.

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