Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 25 (NIPS 2012)

*Matthew Der, Lawrence Saul*

We describe a latent variable model for supervised dimensionality reduction and distance metric learning. The model discovers linear projections of high dimensional data that shrink the distance between similarly labeled inputs and expand the distance between differently labeled ones. The model’s continuous latent variables locate pairs of examples in a latent space of lower dimensionality. The model differs significantly from classical factor analysis in that the posterior distribution over these latent variables is not always multivariate Gaussian. Nevertheless we show that inference is completely tractable and derive an Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm for parameter estimation. We also compare the model to other approaches in distance metric learning. The model’s main advantage is its simplicity: at each iteration of the EM algorithm, the distance metric is re-estimated by solving an unconstrained least-squares problem. Experiments show that these simple updates are highly effective.

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