On Kernel-Target Alignment

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 14 (NIPS 2001)

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Nello Cristianini, John Shawe-Taylor, André Elisseeff, Jaz Kandola


We introduce the notion of kernel-alignment, a measure of similar(cid:173) ity between two kernel functions or between a kernel and a target function. This quantity captures the degree of agreement between a kernel and a given learning task, and has very natural interpre(cid:173) tations in machine learning, leading also to simple algorithms for model selection and learning. We analyse its theoretical properties, proving that it is sharply concentrated around its expected value, and we discuss its relation with other standard measures of per(cid:173) formance. Finally we describe some of the algorithms that can be obtained within this framework, giving experimental results show(cid:173) ing that adapting the kernel to improve alignment on the labelled data significantly increases the alignment on the test set, giving improved classification accuracy. Hence, the approach provides a principled method of performing transduction.

Keywords: Kernels, alignment, eigenvectors, eigenvalues, transduction