Pseudo-Relevance Feedback for Multiple Representation Dense Retrieval

21 Jun 2021  ·  Xiao Wang, Craig Macdonald, Nicola Tonellotto, Iadh Ounis ·

Pseudo-relevance feedback mechanisms, from Rocchio to the relevance models, have shown the usefulness of expanding and reweighting the users' initial queries using information occurring in an initial set of retrieved documents, known as the pseudo-relevant set. Recently, dense retrieval -- through the use of neural contextual language models such as BERT for analysing the documents' and queries' contents and computing their relevance scores -- has shown a promising performance on several information retrieval tasks still relying on the traditional inverted index for identifying documents relevant to a query. Two different dense retrieval families have emerged: the use of single embedded representations for each passage and query (e.g. using BERT's [CLS] token), or via multiple representations (e.g. using an embedding for each token of the query and document). In this work, we conduct the first study into the potential for multiple representation dense retrieval to be enhanced using pseudo-relevance feedback. In particular, based on the pseudo-relevant set of documents identified using a first-pass dense retrieval, we extract representative feedback embeddings (using KMeans clustering) -- while ensuring that these embeddings discriminate among passages (based on IDF) -- which are then added to the query representation. These additional feedback embeddings are shown to both enhance the effectiveness of a reranking as well as an additional dense retrieval operation. Indeed, experiments on the MSMARCO passage ranking dataset show that MAP can be improved by upto 26% on the TREC 2019 query set and 10% on the TREC 2020 query set by the application of our proposed ColBERT-PRF method on a ColBERT dense retrieval approach.

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Results from the Paper

Task Dataset Model Metric Name Metric Value Global Rank Result Benchmark
TREC 2019 Passage Ranking MSMARCO ColBERF PRF Ranker (beta=1) MAP 0.5431 # 1
TREC 2019 Passage Ranking MSMARCO ColBERF PRF ReRanker (beta=0.5) MAP 0.5026 # 3
TREC 2019 Passage Ranking MSMARCO ColBERF PRF ReRanker (beta=1) MAP 0.504 # 2