Semantic Kernel Forests from Multiple Taxonomies

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

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Sung Hwang, Kristen Grauman, Fei Sha


When learning features for complex visual recognition problems, labeled image exemplars alone can be insufficient. While an \emph{object taxonomy} specifying the categories' semantic relationships could bolster the learning process, not all relationships are relevant to a given visual classification task, nor does a single taxonomy capture all ties that \emph{are} relevant. In light of these issues, we propose a discriminative feature learning approach that leverages \emph{multiple} hierarchical taxonomies representing different semantic views of the object categories (e.g., for animal classes, one taxonomy could reflect their phylogenic ties, while another could reflect their habitats). For each taxonomy, we first learn a tree of semantic kernels, where each node has a Mahalanobis kernel optimized to distinguish between the classes in its children nodes. Then, using the resulting \emph{semantic kernel forest}, we learn class-specific kernel combinations to select only those relationships relevant to recognize each object class. To learn the weights, we introduce a novel hierarchical regularization term that further exploits the taxonomies' structure. We demonstrate our method on challenging object recognition datasets, and show that interleaving multiple taxonomic views yields significant accuracy improvements.