Keywords: Sparse Embedding, Inverted Index, Learning to Hash, Embedding Models
Abstract: Dense embedding models are commonly deployed in commercial search engines, wherein all the document vectors are pre-computed, and near-neighbor search (NNS) is performed with the query vector to find relevant documents. However, the bottleneck of indexing a large number of dense vectors and performing an NNS hurts the query time and accuracy of these models. In this paper, we argue that high-dimensional and ultra-sparse embedding is a significantly superior alternative to dense low-dimensional embedding for both query efficiency and accuracy. Extreme sparsity eliminates the need for NNS by replacing them with simple lookups, while its high dimensionality ensures that the embeddings are informative even when sparse. However, learning extremely high dimensional embeddings leads to blow up in the model size. To make the training feasible, we propose a partitioning algorithm that learns such high dimensional embeddings across multiple GPUs without any communication. This is facilitated by our novel asymmetric mixture of Sparse, Orthogonal, Learned and Random (SOLAR) Embeddings. The label vectors are random, sparse, and near-orthogonal by design, while the query vectors are learned and sparse. We theoretically prove that our way of one-sided learning is equivalent to learning both query and label embeddings. With these unique properties, we can successfully train 500K dimensional SOLAR embeddings for the tasks of searching through 1.6M books and multi-label classification on the three largest public datasets. We achieve superior precision and recall compared to the respective state-of-the-art baselines for each task with up to 10 times faster speed.
One-sentence Summary: We propose a distributed training scheme to learn high dimensional sparse embeddings that are much better than dense embeddings on both precision and speed.
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