Large Margin Multi-Task Metric Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS 2010)

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Shibin Parameswaran, Kilian Q. Weinberger


Multi-task learning (MTL) improves the prediction performance on multiple, different but related, learning problems through shared parameters or representations. One of the most prominent multi-task learning algorithms is an extension to svms by Evgeniou et al. Although very elegant, multi-task svm is inherently restricted by the fact that support vector machines require each class to be addressed explicitly with its own weight vector which, in a multi-task setting, requires the different learning tasks to share the same set of classes. This paper proposes an alternative formulation for multi-task learning by extending the recently published large margin nearest neighbor (lmnn) algorithm to the MTL paradigm. Instead of relying on separating hyperplanes, its decision function is based on the nearest neighbor rule which inherently extends to many classes and becomes a natural fit for multitask learning. We evaluate the resulting multi-task lmnn on real-world insurance data and speech classification problems and show that it consistently outperforms single-task kNN under several metrics and state-of-the-art MTL classifiers.