The significance of relevance trees in the identification of artificial neural networks input vectors

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


In the 1980s a renewed interest in artificial neural networks (ANN) has led to a wide range of applications which included demand forecasting. ANN demand forecasting algorithms were found to be preferable over parametric or also referred to as statistical based techniques. For an ANN demand forecasting algorithm, the demand may be stochastic or deterministic, linear or nonlinear. Comparative studies conducted on the two broad streams of demand forecasting methodologies, namely artificial intelligence methods and statistical methods has revealed that AI methods tend to hide the complexities of correlation analysis. In parametric methods, correlation is found by means of sometimes difficult and rigorous mathematics. Most statistical methods extract and correlate various demand elements which are usually broadly classed into weather and non-weather variables. Several models account for noise and random factors and suggest optimization techniques specific to certain model parameters. However, for an ANN algorithm, the identification of input and output vectors is critical. Predicting the future demand is conducted by observing previous demand values and how underlying factors influence the overall demand. Trend analyses are conducted on these influential variables and a medium and long term forecast model is derived. In order to perform an accurate forecast, the changes in the demand have to be defined in terms of how these input vectors correlate to the final demand. The elements of the input vectors have to be identifiable and quantifiable. This paper proposes a method known as relevance trees to identify critical elements of the input vector. The case study is of a rapid railway operator, namely the Gautrain.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Specialist publicationJournal of Energy in Southern Africa
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Artificial neural networks
  • Demand forecast
  • Gautrain rapid railway system
  • Input vectors
  • Notified network demand
  • Relevance trees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Energy


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