- Abstract: We propose a novel unsupervised representation learning framework called neighbor-encoder in which domain knowledge can be trivially incorporated into the learning process without modifying the general encoder-decoder architecture. In contrast to autoencoder, which reconstructs the input data, neighbor-encoder reconstructs the input data's neighbors. The proposed neighbor-encoder can be considered as a generalization of autoencoder as the input data can be treated as the nearest neighbor of itself with zero distance. By reformulating the representation learning problem as a neighbor reconstruction problem, domain knowledge can be easily incorporated with appropriate definition of similarity or distance between objects. As such, any existing similarity search algorithms can be easily integrated into our framework. Applications of other algorithms (e.g., association rule mining) in our framework is also possible since the concept of ``neighbor" is an abstraction which can be appropriately defined differently in different contexts. We have demonstrated the effectiveness of our framework in various domains, including images, time series, music, etc., with various neighbor definitions. Experimental results show that neighbor-encoder outperforms autoencoder in most scenarios we considered.
- Keywords: unsupervised learning, representation learning, autoencoder