Steering Distortions to Preserve Classes and Neighbors in Supervised Dimensionality Reduction

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Benoît Colange, Jaakko Peltonen, Michael Aupetit, Denys Dutykh, Sylvain Lespinats


Nonlinear dimensionality reduction of high-dimensional data is challenging as the low-dimensional embedding will necessarily contain distortions, and it can be hard to determine which distortions are the most important to avoid. When annotation of data into known relevant classes is available, it can be used to guide the embedding to avoid distortions that worsen class separation. The supervised mapping method introduced in the present paper, called ClassNeRV, proposes an original stress function that takes class annotation into account and evaluates embedding quality both in terms of false neighbors and missed neighbors. ClassNeRV shares the theoretical framework of a family of methods descended from Stochastic Neighbor Embedding (SNE). Our approach has a key advantage over previous ones: in the literature supervised methods often emphasize class separation at the price of distorting the data neighbors' structure; conversely, unsupervised methods provide better preservation of structure at the price of often mixing classes. Experiments show that ClassNeRV can preserve both neighbor structure and class separation, outperforming nine state of the art alternatives.