Efficient Multi-Vector Dense Retrieval Using Bit Vectors

3 Apr 2024  ·  Franco Maria Nardini, Cosimo Rulli, Rossano Venturini ·

Dense retrieval techniques employ pre-trained large language models to build a high-dimensional representation of queries and passages. These representations compute the relevance of a passage w.r.t. to a query using efficient similarity measures. In this line, multi-vector representations show improved effectiveness at the expense of a one-order-of-magnitude increase in memory footprint and query latency by encoding queries and documents on a per-token level. Recently, PLAID has tackled these problems by introducing a centroid-based term representation to reduce the memory impact of multi-vector systems. By exploiting a centroid interaction mechanism, PLAID filters out non-relevant documents, thus reducing the cost of the successive ranking stages. This paper proposes ``Efficient Multi-Vector dense retrieval with Bit vectors'' (EMVB), a novel framework for efficient query processing in multi-vector dense retrieval. First, EMVB employs a highly efficient pre-filtering step of passages using optimized bit vectors. Second, the computation of the centroid interaction happens column-wise, exploiting SIMD instructions, thus reducing its latency. Third, EMVB leverages Product Quantization (PQ) to reduce the memory footprint of storing vector representations while jointly allowing for fast late interaction. Fourth, we introduce a per-document term filtering method that further improves the efficiency of the last step. Experiments on MS MARCO and LoTTE show that EMVB is up to 2.8x faster while reducing the memory footprint by 1.8x with no loss in retrieval accuracy compared to PLAID.

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