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Yiqun Chen, Jiaxin Mao, Yi Zhang, Dehong Ma, Long Xia, Jun Fan, Daiting Shi, Zhicong Cheng, Simiu Gu, Dawei Yin

The objective of search result diversification (SRD) is to ensure that selected documents cover as many different subtopics as possible. Existing methods primarily utilize a paradigm of "greedy selection", i.e., selecting one document with the highest diversity score at a time. These approaches tend to be inefficient and are easily trapped in a suboptimal state. In addition, some other methods aim to approximately optimize the diversity metric, such as $\alpha$-NDCG, but the results still remain suboptimal. To address these challenges, we introduce Multi-Agent reinforcement learning (MARL) for search result DIVersity, which called MA4DIV. In this approach, each document is an agent and the search result diversification is modeled as a cooperative task among multiple agents. This approach allows for directly optimizing the diversity metrics, such as $\alpha$-NDCG, while achieving high training efficiency. We conducted preliminary experiments on public TREC datasets to demonstrate the effectiveness and potential of MA4DIV. Considering the limited number of queries in public TREC datasets, we construct a large-scale dataset from industry sources and show that MA4DIV achieves substantial improvements in both effectiveness and efficiency than existing baselines on a industrial scale dataset.

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Zhongjie Shi, Jun Fan, Linhao Song, Ding-Xuan Zhou, Johan A. K. Suykens

With the rapid development of deep learning in various fields of science and technology, such as speech recognition, image classification, and natural language processing, recently it is also widely applied in the functional data analysis (FDA) with some empirical success. However, due to the infinite dimensional input, we need a powerful dimension reduction method for functional learning tasks, especially for the nonlinear functional regression. In this paper, based on the idea of smooth kernel integral transformation, we propose a functional deep neural network with an efficient and fully data-dependent dimension reduction method. The architecture of our functional net consists of a kernel embedding step: an integral transformation with a data-dependent smooth kernel; a projection step: a dimension reduction by projection with eigenfunction basis based on the embedding kernel; and finally an expressive deep ReLU neural network for the prediction. The utilization of smooth kernel embedding enables our functional net to be discretization invariant, efficient, and robust to noisy observations, capable of utilizing information in both input functions and responses data, and have a low requirement on the number of discrete points for an unimpaired generalization performance. We conduct theoretical analysis including approximation error and generalization error analysis, and numerical simulations to verify these advantages of our functional net.

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Zhan Yu, Jun Fan, Ding-Xuan Zhou

In recent years, different types of distributed learning schemes have received increasing attention for their strong advantages in handling large-scale data information. In the information era, to face the big data challenges which stem from functional data analysis very recently, we propose a novel distributed gradient descent functional learning (DGDFL) algorithm to tackle functional data across numerous local machines (processors) in the framework of reproducing kernel Hilbert space. Based on integral operator approaches, we provide the first theoretical understanding of the DGDFL algorithm in many different aspects in the literature. On the way of understanding DGDFL, firstly, a data-based gradient descent functional learning (GDFL) algorithm associated with a single-machine model is proposed and comprehensively studied. Under mild conditions, confidence-based optimal learning rates of DGDFL are obtained without the saturation boundary on the regularity index suffered in previous works in functional regression. We further provide a semi-supervised DGDFL approach to weaken the restriction on the maximal number of local machines to ensure optimal rates. To our best knowledge, the DGDFL provides the first distributed iterative training approach to functional learning and enriches the stage of functional data analysis.

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Linhao Song, Jun Fan, Di-Rong Chen, Ding-Xuan Zhou

In recent years, functional neural networks have been proposed and studied in order to approximate nonlinear continuous functionals defined on $L^p([-1, 1]^s)$ for integers $s\ge1$ and $1\le p<\infty$. However, their theoretical properties are largely unknown beyond universality of approximation or the existing analysis does not apply to the rectified linear unit (ReLU) activation function. To fill in this void, we investigate here the approximation power of functional deep neural networks associated with the ReLU activation function by constructing a continuous piecewise linear interpolation under a simple triangulation. In addition, we establish rates of approximation of the proposed functional deep ReLU networks under mild regularity conditions. Finally, our study may also shed some light on the understanding of functional data learning algorithms.

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Lianshang Cai, Linhao Zhang, Dehong Ma, Jun Fan, Daiting Shi, Yi Wu, Zhicong Cheng, Simiu Gu, Dawei Yin

Pre-trained language models have become a crucial part of ranking systems and achieved very impressive effects recently. To maintain high performance while keeping efficient computations, knowledge distillation is widely used. In this paper, we focus on two key questions in knowledge distillation for ranking models: 1) how to ensemble knowledge from multi-teacher; 2) how to utilize the label information of data in the distillation process. We propose a unified algorithm called Pairwise Iterative Logits Ensemble (PILE) to tackle these two questions simultaneously. PILE ensembles multi-teacher logits supervised by label information in an iterative way and achieved competitive performance in both offline and online experiments. The proposed method has been deployed in a real-world commercial search system.

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Keli Guo, Jun Fan, Lixing Zhu

In this paper, we establish minimax optimal rates of convergence for prediction in a semi-functional linear model that consists of a functional component and a less smooth nonparametric component. Our results reveal that the smoother functional component can be learned with the minimax rate as if the nonparametric component were known. More specifically, a double-penalized least squares method is adopted to estimate both the functional and nonparametric components within the framework of reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces. By virtue of the representer theorem, an efficient algorithm that requires no iterations is proposed to solve the corresponding optimization problem, where the regularization parameters are selected by the generalized cross validation criterion. Numerical studies are provided to demonstrate the effectiveness of the method and to verify the theoretical analysis.

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Jun Fan, Dao-Hong Xiang

This paper studies binary classification problem associated with a family of loss functions called large-margin unified machines (LUM), which offers a natural bridge between distribution-based likelihood approaches and margin-based approaches. It also can overcome the so-called data piling issue of support vector machine in the high-dimension and low-sample size setting. In this paper we establish some new comparison theorems for all LUM loss functions which play a key role in the further error analysis of large-margin learning algorithms.

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Zhongyang Zhang, Ling Zhang, Ze Sun, Nicholas Erickson, Ryan From, Jun Fan

Simulating the dynamic characteristics of a PN junction at the microscopic level requires solving the Poisson's equation at every time step. Solving at every time step is a necessary but time-consuming process when using the traditional finite difference (FDM) approach. Deep learning is a powerful technique to fit complex functions. In this work, deep learning is utilized to accelerate solving Poisson's equation in a PN junction. The role of the boundary condition is emphasized in the loss function to ensure a better fitting. The resulting I-V curve for the PN junction, using the deep learning solver presented in this work, shows a perfect match to the I-V curve obtained using the finite difference method, with the advantage of being 10 times faster at every time step.

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Yunlong Feng, Jun Fan, Johan A. K. Suykens

This paper studies the nonparametric modal regression problem systematically from a statistical learning view. Originally motivated by pursuing a theoretical understanding of the maximum correntropy criterion based regression (MCCR), our study reveals that MCCR with a tending-to-zero scale parameter is essentially modal regression. We show that nonparametric modal regression problem can be approached via the classical empirical risk minimization. Some efforts are then made to develop a framework for analyzing and implementing modal regression. For instance, the modal regression function is described, the modal regression risk is defined explicitly and its \textit{Bayes} rule is characterized; for the sake of computational tractability, the surrogate modal regression risk, which is termed as the generalization risk in our study, is introduced. On the theoretical side, the excess modal regression risk, the excess generalization risk, the function estimation error, and the relations among the above three quantities are studied rigorously. It turns out that under mild conditions, function estimation consistency and convergence may be pursued in modal regression as in vanilla regression protocols, such as mean regression, median regression, and quantile regression. However, it outperforms these regression models in terms of robustness as shown in our study from a re-descending M-estimation view. This coincides with and in return explains the merits of MCCR on robustness. On the practical side, the implementation issues of modal regression including the computational algorithm and the tuning parameters selection are discussed. Numerical assessments on modal regression are also conducted to verify our findings empirically.

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Jun Fan, Ting Hu, Qiang Wu, Ding-Xuan Zhou

In this paper we study the consistency of an empirical minimum error entropy (MEE) algorithm in a regression setting. We introduce two types of consistency. The error entropy consistency, which requires the error entropy of the learned function to approximate the minimum error entropy, is shown to be always true if the bandwidth parameter tends to 0 at an appropriate rate. The regression consistency, which requires the learned function to approximate the regression function, however, is a complicated issue. We prove that the error entropy consistency implies the regression consistency for homoskedastic models where the noise is independent of the input variable. But for heteroskedastic models, a counterexample is used to show that the two types of consistency do not coincide. A surprising result is that the regression consistency is always true, provided that the bandwidth parameter tends to infinity at an appropriate rate. Regression consistency of two classes of special models is shown to hold with fixed bandwidth parameter, which further illustrates the complexity of regression consistency of MEE. Fourier transform plays crucial roles in our analysis.

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