Efficient Training of Retrieval Models using Negative Cache

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Erik Lindgren, Sashank Reddi, Ruiqi Guo, Sanjiv Kumar


Factorized models, such as two tower neural network models, are widely used for scoring (query, document) pairs in information retrieval tasks. These models are typically trained by optimizing the model parameters to score relevant positive" pairs higher than the irrelevantnegative" ones. While a large set of negatives typically improves the model performance, limited computation and memory budgets place constraints on the number of negatives used during training. In this paper, we develop a novel negative sampling technique for accelerating training with softmax cross-entropy loss. By using cached (possibly stale) item embeddings, our technique enables training with a large pool of negatives with reduced memory and computation. We also develop a streaming variant of our algorithm geared towards very large datasets. Furthermore, we establish a theoretical basis for our approach by showing that updating a very small fraction of the cache at each iteration can still ensure fast convergence. Finally, we experimentally validate our approach and show that it is efficient and compares favorably with more complex, state-of-the-art approaches.