Selective Weak Supervision for Neural Information Retrieval

28 Jan 2020  ·  Kaitao Zhang, Chenyan Xiong, Zhenghao Liu, Zhiyuan Liu ·

This paper democratizes neural information retrieval to scenarios where large scale relevance training signals are not available. We revisit the classic IR intuition that anchor-document relations approximate query-document relevance and propose a reinforcement weak supervision selection method, ReInfoSelect, which learns to select anchor-document pairs that best weakly supervise the neural ranker (action), using the ranking performance on a handful of relevance labels as the reward... Iteratively, for a batch of anchor-document pairs, ReInfoSelect back propagates the gradients through the neural ranker, gathers its NDCG reward, and optimizes the data selection network using policy gradients, until the neural ranker's performance peaks on target relevance metrics (convergence). In our experiments on three TREC benchmarks, neural rankers trained by ReInfoSelect, with only publicly available anchor data, significantly outperform feature-based learning to rank methods and match the effectiveness of neural rankers trained with private commercial search logs. Our analyses show that ReInfoSelect effectively selects weak supervision signals based on the stage of the neural ranker training, and intuitively picks anchor-document pairs similar to query-document pairs. read more

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