Feature Set Embedding for Incomplete Data

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS 2010)

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David Grangier, Iain Melvin


We present a new learning strategy for classification problems in which train and/or test data suffer from missing features. In previous work, instances are represented as vectors from some feature space and one is forced to impute missing values or to consider an instance-specific subspace. In contrast, our method considers instances as sets of (feature,value) pairs which naturally handle the missing value case. Building onto this framework, we propose a classification strategy for sets. Our proposal maps (feature,value) pairs into an embedding space and then non-linearly combines the set of embedded vectors. The embedding and the combination parameters are learned jointly on the final classification objective. This simple strategy allows great flexibility in encoding prior knowledge about the features in the embedding step and yields advantageous results compared to alternative solutions over several datasets.