Learning a Distance Metric from a Network

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (NIPS 2011)

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Blake Shaw, Bert Huang, Tony Jebara


Many real-world networks are described by both connectivity information and features for every node. To better model and understand these networks, we present structure preserving metric learning (SPML), an algorithm for learning a Mahalanobis distance metric from a network such that the learned distances are tied to the inherent connectivity structure of the network. Like the graph embedding algorithm structure preserving embedding, SPML learns a metric which is structure preserving, meaning a connectivity algorithm such as k-nearest neighbors will yield the correct connectivity when applied using the distances from the learned metric. We show a variety of synthetic and real-world experiments where SPML predicts link patterns from node features more accurately than standard techniques. We further demonstrate a method for optimizing SPML based on stochastic gradient descent which removes the running-time dependency on the size of the network and allows the method to easily scale to networks of thousands of nodes and millions of edges.