Fast Similarity Search via Optimal Sparse Lifting

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)

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Wenye Li, Jingwei Mao, Yin Zhang, Shuguang Cui


Similarity search is a fundamental problem in computing science with various applications and has attracted significant research attention, especially in large-scale search with high dimensions. Motivated by the evidence in biological science, our work develops a novel approach for similarity search. Fundamentally different from existing methods that typically reduce the dimension of the data to lessen the computational complexity and speed up the search, our approach projects the data into an even higher-dimensional space while ensuring the sparsity of the data in the output space, with the objective of further improving precision and speed. Specifically, our approach has two key steps. Firstly, it computes the optimal sparse lifting for given input samples and increases the dimension of the data while approximately preserving their pairwise similarity. Secondly, it seeks the optimal lifting operator that best maps input samples to the optimal sparse lifting. Computationally, both steps are modeled as optimization problems that can be efficiently and effectively solved by the Frank-Wolfe algorithm. Simple as it is, our approach has reported significantly improved results in empirical evaluations, and exhibited its high potentials in solving practical problems.