Exponential Family Graph Matching and Ranking

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009)

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James Petterson, Jin Yu, Julian Mcauley, Tibério Caetano


We present a method for learning max-weight matching predictors in bipartite graphs. The method consists of performing maximum a posteriori estimation in exponential families with sufficient statistics that encode permutations and data features. Although inference is in general hard, we show that for one very relevant application - document ranking - exact inference is efficient. For general model instances, an appropriate sampler is readily available. Contrary to existing max-margin matching models, our approach is statistically consistent and, in addition, experiments with increasing sample sizes indicate superior improvement over such models. We apply the method to graph matching in computer vision as well as to a standard benchmark dataset for learning document ranking, in which we obtain state-of-the-art results, in particular improving on max-margin variants. The drawback of this method with respect to max-margin alternatives is its runtime for large graphs, which is high comparatively.