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Learning Groupwise Scoring Functions Using Deep Neural Networks

Qingyao Ai
Proceedings of the First International Workshop On Deep Matching In Practical Applications (2019)


While in a classification or a regression setting a label or a value is assigned to each individual document, in a ranking setting we determine the relevance ordering of the entire input document list. This difference leads to the notion of relative relevance between documents in ranking. The majority of the existing learning-to-rank algorithms model such relativity at the loss level using pairwise or listwise loss functions. However, they are restricted to pointwise scoring functions, i.e., the relevance score of a document is computed based on the document itself, regardless of the other documents in the list. In this paper, we overcome this limitation by proposing generalized groupwise scoring functions (GSFs), in which the relevance score of a document is determined jointly by groups of documents in the list. We learn GSFs with a deep neural network architecture, and demonstrate that several representative learning-to-rank algorithms can be modeled as special cases in our framework. We conduct evaluation using the public MSLR-WEB30K dataset, and our experiments show that GSFs lead to significant performance improvements both in a standalone deep learning architecture, or when combined with a state-of-the-art tree-based learning-to-rank algorithm.