Auto-encoding GPS data to reveal individual and collective behaviour

We propose an innovative and generic methodology to analyse individual and collective behaviour through individual trajectory data. The work is motivated by the analysis of GPS trajectories of fishing vessels collected from regulatory tracking data in the context of marine biodiversity conservation and ecosystem-based fisheries management. We build a low-dimensional latent representation of trajectories using convolutional neural networks as non-linear mapping. This is done by training a conditional variational autoencoder taking into account covariates. The posterior distributions of the latent representations can be linked to the characteristics of the actual trajectories. The latent distributions of the trajectories are compared with the Bhattacharyya coefficient, which is well-suited for comparing distributions. Using this coefficient, we analyse the variation of the individual behaviour of each vessel during time. For collective behaviour analysis, we build proximity graphs and use an extension of the stochastic block model for multiple networks. This model results in a clustering of the individuals based on their set of trajectories. The application to French fishing vessels enables us to obtain groups of vessels whose individual and collective behaviours exhibit spatio-temporal patterns over the period 2014-2018.


Bhattacharyya, Collective behaviour, Conditional variational autoencoder, Latent representation of trajectories, Network for trajectory data, Fishing vessels clustering

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Chabert-Liddell Saint-Clair, Bez Nicolas, Gloaguen Pierre, Donnet Sophie, Mahevas Stephanie (2023). Auto-encoding GPS data to reveal individual and collective behaviour. ArXiv. INPRESS.,

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