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Metric learning and scale estimation in high dimensional machine learning problems with an application to generic object recognition

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posted on 31.01.2017, 05:31 by Zaidi, Nayyar Abbas
A typical machine learning algorithm takes advantage of training data to discover patterns among observed variables. For example, a learning algorithm can predict the label of a test data point by measuring its similarity with the training data points. Since the data is constituted of features which are not necessarily related by any evident relation, the notion of similarity is not trivially defined. When measuring similarity, one should not necessarily treat all features as being equally important. The problem of learning in high-dimensional machine learning data is actually the problem of estimating the relative importance of the features. The relevance determination tunes a data-dependent similarity measure. Most machine learning algorithms either implicitly or explicitly learn this similarity measure on which their performance is critically dependent. In this thesis, various metric learning techniques are analyzed and systematically studied under a unified framework to highlight the criticality of data-dependent distance metric in machine learning. The metric learning algorithms are categorized as naive, semi-naive, complete and high-level metric learning, under a common distance measurement framework. The connection of feature selection, feature weighting, feature partitioning, kernel tuning, etc. with metric learning is discussed and it is shown that they are all in fact forms of metric learning. Novel naive, semi-naive, complete and high-level metric learning algorithms are proposed to improve classification performance. Also, it has been shown that the realm of metric learning is not limited to k-nearest neighbor classification, and that a metric optimized in the k-nearest neighbor setting is likely to be effective and applicable in other kernel-based frameworks, for example Support Vector Machines (SVM) and Gaussian Processes (GP).


Campus location


Principal supervisor

David McG. Squire

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Clayton School of IT


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Information Technology