Dual encoders have been used for retrieval tasks and representation learning with good results. A standard way to train dual encoders is using a contrastive loss with in-batch negatives. In this work, we propose an improved contrastive learning objective by adding queries or documents from the same encoder towers to the negatives, for which we name it as "contrastive loss with SAMe TOwer NEgatives" (SamToNe). By evaluating on question answering retrieval benchmarks from MS MARCO and MultiReQA, and heterogenous zero-shot information retrieval benchmarks (BEIR), we demonstrate that SamToNe can effectively improve the retrieval quality for both symmetric and asymmetric dual encoders. By directly probing the embedding spaces of the two encoding towers via the t-SNE algorithm (van der Maaten and Hinton, 2008), we observe that SamToNe ensures the alignment between the embedding spaces from the two encoder towers. Based on the analysis of the embedding distance distributions of the top-$1$ retrieved results, we further explain the efficacy of the method from the perspective of regularisation.
Dual encoders have been used for question-answering (QA) and information retrieval (IR) tasks with good results. There are two major types of dual encoders, Siamese Dual Encoders (SDE), with parameters shared across two encoders, and Asymmetric Dual Encoder (ADE), with two distinctly parameterized encoders. In this work, we explore the dual encoder architectures for QA retrieval tasks. By evaluating on MS MARCO and the MultiReQA benchmark, we show that SDE performs significantly better than ADE. We further propose three different improved versions of ADEs. Based on the evaluation of QA retrieval tasks and direct analysis of the embeddings, we demonstrate that sharing parameters in projection layers would enable ADEs to perform competitively with SDEs.
This paper studies the evaluation of policies that recommend an ordered set of items (e.g., a ranking) based on some context---a common scenario in web search, ads, and recommendation. We build on techniques from combinatorial bandits to introduce a new practical estimator that uses logged data to estimate a policy's performance. A thorough empirical evaluation on real-world data reveals that our estimator is accurate in a variety of settings, including as a subroutine in a learning-to-rank task, where it achieves competitive performance. We derive conditions under which our estimator is unbiased---these conditions are weaker than prior heuristics for slate evaluation---and experimentally demonstrate a smaller bias than parametric approaches, even when these conditions are violated. Finally, our theory and experiments also show exponential savings in the amount of required data compared with general unbiased estimators.