The assessment of time irreversibility, i.e., of the lack of invariance of the statistical properties of a system under the operation of time reversal, is a topic steadily gaining attention within the research community. Irreversible dynamics have been found in many real-world systems, with alterations being connected to, for instance, pathologies in the human brain, heart and gait, or to inefficiencies in financial markets. Assessing irreversibility in time series is not an easy task, due to its many aetiologies and to the different ways it manifests in data. It is thus not surprising that several numerical methods have been proposed in the last decades, based on different principles and with different applications in mind. In this contribution we review the most important algorithmic solutions that have been proposed to test the irreversibility of time series, their underlying hypotheses, computational and practical limitations, and their comparative performance. We further provide an open-source software library that includes all tests here considered. As a final point, we show that “one size does not fit all”, as tests yield complementary, and sometimes conflicting views to the problem; and discuss some future research avenues.
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