Evaluating Forecasting Performance in the Context of Process-Level Decisions: Methods, Computation Platform, and Studies in Residential Electricity Demand Estimation
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This dissertation explores how decisions about the forecasting process can affect the evaluation of forecasting performance, in general and in the domain of residential electricity demand estimation. Decisions of interest include those around data sourcing, sampling, clustering, temporal magnification, algorithm selection, testing approach, evaluation metrics, and others. Models of the forecasting process and analysis methods are formulated in terms of a three-tier decision taxonomy, by which decision effects are exposed through systematic enumeration of the techniques resulting from those decisions. A computation platform based on the models is implemented to compute and visualize the effects. The methods and computation platform are first demonstrated by applying them to 3,003 benchmark datasets to investigate various decisions, including those that could impact the relationship between data entropy and forecastability. Then, they are used to study over 10,624 week-ahead and day-ahead residential electricity demand forecasting techniques, utilizing fine-resolution electricity usage data collected over 18 months on groups of 782 and 223 households by real smart electric grids in Ireland and Australia, respectively. The main finding from this research is that forecasting performance is highly sensitive to the interaction effects of many decisions. Sampling is found to be an especially effective data strategy, clustering not so, temporal magnification mixed. Other relationships between certain decisions and performance are surfaced, too. While these findings are empirical and specific to one practically scoped investigation, they are potentially generalizable, with implications for residential electricity demand estimation, smart electric grid design, and electricity policy.