AutoFAS: Automatic Feature and Architecture Selection for Pre-Ranking System

19 May 2022  ·  Xiang Li, Xiaojiang Zhou, Yao Xiao, Peihao Huang, Dayao Chen, Sheng Chen, Yunsen Xian ·

Industrial search and recommendation systems mostly follow the classic multi-stage information retrieval paradigm: matching, pre-ranking, ranking, and re-ranking stages. To account for system efficiency, simple vector-product based models are commonly deployed in the pre-ranking stage. Recent works consider distilling the high knowledge of large ranking models to small pre-ranking models for better effectiveness. However, two major challenges in pre-ranking system still exist: (i) without explicitly modeling the performance gain versus computation cost, the predefined latency constraint in the pre-ranking stage inevitably leads to suboptimal solutions; (ii) transferring the ranking teacher's knowledge to a pre-ranking student with a predetermined handcrafted architecture still suffers from the loss of model performance. In this work, a novel framework AutoFAS is proposed which jointly optimizes the efficiency and effectiveness of the pre-ranking model: (i) AutoFAS for the first time simultaneously selects the most valuable features and network architectures using Neural Architecture Search (NAS) technique; (ii) equipped with ranking model guided reward during NAS procedure, AutoFAS can select the best pre-ranking architecture for a given ranking teacher without any computation overhead. Experimental results in our real world search system show AutoFAS consistently outperforms the previous state-of-the-art (SOTA) approaches at a lower computing cost. Notably, our model has been adopted in the pre-ranking module in the search system of Meituan, bringing significant improvements.

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