Wednesday, March 15, 2017

k-NN at Scale and Deep Learning

Similarity search finds application in specialized database systems handling complex data such as images or videos, which are typically represented by high-dimensional features and require specific indexing structures. This paper tackles the problem of better utilizing GPUs for this task. While GPUs excel at data-parallel tasks, prior approaches are bottlenecked by algorithms that expose less parallelism, such as k-min selection, or make poor use of the memory hierarchy.
We propose a design for k-selection that operates at up to 55% of theoretical peak performance, enabling a nearest neighbor implementation that is 8.5x faster than prior GPU state of the art. We apply it in different similarity search scenarios, by proposing optimized design for brute-force, approximate and compressed-domain search based on product quantization. In all these setups, we outperform the state of the art by large margins. Our implementation enables the construction of a high accuracy k-NN graph on 95 million images from the Yfcc100M dataset in 35 minutes, and of a graph connecting 1 billion vectors in less than 12 hours on 4 Maxwell Titan X GPUs. We have open-sourced our approach for the sake of comparison and reproducibility.
An implementation is here: 

Nearest neighbor (kNN) methods have been gaining popularity in recent years in light of advances in hardware and efficiency of algorithms. There is a plethora of methods to choose from today, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. One requirement shared between all kNN based methods is the need for a good representation and distance measure between samples.
We introduce a new method called differentiable boundary tree which allows for learning deep kNN representations. We build on the recently proposed boundary tree algorithm which allows for efficient nearest neighbor classification, regression and retrieval. By modelling traversals in the tree as stochastic events, we are able to form a differentiable cost function which is associated with the tree's predictions. Using a deep neural network to transform the data and back-propagating through the tree allows us to learn good representations for kNN methods. We demonstrate that our method is able to learn suitable representations allowing for very efficient trees with a clearly interpretable structure.

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