Learning Visual Features from Snapshots for Web Search

10/19/2017 ∙ by Yixing Fan, et al. ∙ 0

When applying learning to rank algorithms to Web search, a large number of features are usually designed to capture the relevance signals. Most of these features are computed based on the extracted textual elements, link analysis, and user logs. However, Web pages are not solely linked texts, but have structured layout organizing a large variety of elements in different styles. Such layout itself can convey useful visual information, indicating the relevance of a Web page. For example, the query-independent layout (i.e., raw page layout) can help identify the page quality, while the query-dependent layout (i.e., page rendered with matched query words) can further tell rich structural information (e.g., size, position and proximity) of the matching signals. However, such visual information of layout has been seldom utilized in Web search in the past. In this work, we propose to learn rich visual features automatically from the layout of Web pages (i.e., Web page snapshots) for relevance ranking. Both query-independent and query-dependent snapshots are considered as the new inputs. We then propose a novel visual perception model inspired by human's visual search behaviors on page viewing to extract the visual features. This model can be learned end-to-end together with traditional human-crafted features. We also show that such visual features can be efficiently acquired in the online setting with an extended inverted indexing scheme. Experiments on benchmark collections demonstrate that learning visual features from Web page snapshots can significantly improve the performance of relevance ranking in ad-hoc Web retrieval tasks.

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