Google Research

Semantic Text Matching for Long-Form Documents

Proceedings of the 2019 World Wide Web Conference, pp. 795-806


Semantic text matching is one of the most important research problems in many domains, including, but not limited to, information retrieval, question answering, and recommendation. Among the different types of semantic text matching, long-document-to-long-document text matching has many applications, but has rarely been studied. Most existing approaches for semantic text matching have limited success in this setting, due to their inability to capture and distill the main ideas and topics from long-form text.

In this paper, we propose a novel Siamese multi-depth attention-based hierarchical recurrent neural network (SMASH RNN) that learns the long-form semantics, and enables long-form document based semantic text matching. In addition to word information, SMASH RNN is using the document structure to improve the representation of long-form documents. Specifically, SMASH RNN synthesizes information from different document structure levels, including paragraphs, sentences, and words. An attention-based hierarchical RNN derives a representation for each document structure level. Then, the representations learned from the different levels are aggregated to learn a more comprehensive semantic representation of the entire document. For semantic text matching, a Siamese structure couples the representations of a pair of documents, and infers a probabilistic score as their similarity.

We conduct an extensive empirical evaluation of SMASH RNN with three practical applications, including email attachment suggestion, related article recommendation, and citation recommendation. Experimental results on public data sets demonstrate that SMASH RNN significantly outperforms competitive baseline methods across various classification and ranking scenarios in the context of semantic matching of long-form documents.

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