SLM: End-to-end Feature Selection via Sparse Learnable Masks

arXiv (to appear)(2023)


We propose a canonical approach for feature selection, sparse learnable masks (SLM). SLM integrates learnable sparse masks into end-to-end training. For the fundamental non-differentiability challenge of selecting a desired number of features, we propose duo mechanisms for automatic mask scaling to achieve the desired feature sparsity, and gradually tempering this sparsity for effective learning. In addition, SLM employs a novel objective that maximizes the mutual information (MI) between the selected features and the labels, in an efficient and scalable way. Empirically, SLM achieves state-of-the-art results on several benchmark datasets, often by a significant margin, especially on real-world challenging datasets.

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