Google Research

Learning Query-Specific Distance Functions for Large-Scale Web Image Search

IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, vol. 15 (2013), pp. 2022-2034


Current Google image search adopts a hybrid search approach in which a text-based query (e.g., "Paris landmarks") is used to retrieve a set of relevant images, which are then refined by the user (e.g., by re-ranking the retrieved images based on similarity to a selected example). We conjecture that given such hybrid image search engines, learning per-query distance functions over image features can improve the estimation of image similarity. We proposed scalable solutions to learning query-specific distance functions by 1) adopting a simple large-margin learning framework, 2) using the query-logs of a text-based image search engine to train distance functions used in content-based systems. We evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of our proposed system through comprehensive human evaluation, and compare the results with the state-of-the-art image distance function used by Google image search.

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