An Online Algorithm for Large Scale Image Similarity Learning

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

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Gal Chechik, Uri Shalit, Varun Sharma, Samy Bengio


Learning a measure of similarity between pairs of objects is a fundamental problem in machine learning. It stands in the core of classification methods like kernel machines, and is particularly useful for applications like searching for images that are similar to a given image or finding videos that are relevant to a given video. In these tasks, users look for objects that are not only visually similar but also semantically related to a given object. Unfortunately, current approaches for learning similarity may not scale to large datasets with high dimensionality, especially when imposing metric constraints on the learned similarity. We describe OASIS, a method for learning pairwise similarity that is fast and scales linearly with the number of objects and the number of non-zero features. Scalability is achieved through online learning of a bilinear model over sparse representations using a large margin criterion and an efficient hinge loss cost. OASIS is accurate at a wide range of scales: on a standard benchmark with thousands of images, it is more precise than state-of-the-art methods, and faster by orders of magnitude. On 2 million images collected from the web, OASIS can be trained within 3 days on a single CPU. The non-metric similarities learned by OASIS can be transformed into metric similarities, achieving higher precisions than similarities that are learned as metrics in the first place. This suggests an approach for learning a metric from data that is larger by an order of magnitude than was handled before.