The Pyramid Match Kernel: Efficient Learning with Sets of Features

Kristen Grauman, Trevor Darrell.

Year: 2007, Volume: 8, Issue: 26, Pages: 725−760


In numerous domains it is useful to represent a single example by the set of the local features or parts that comprise it. However, this representation poses a challenge to many conventional machine learning techniques, since sets may vary in cardinality and elements lack a meaningful ordering. Kernel methods can learn complex functions, but a kernel over unordered set inputs must somehow solve for correspondences---generally a computationally expensive task that becomes impractical for large set sizes. We present a new fast kernel function called the pyramid match that measures partial match similarity in time linear in the number of features. The pyramid match maps unordered feature sets to multi-resolution histograms and computes a weighted histogram intersection in order to find implicit correspondences based on the finest resolution histogram cell where a matched pair first appears. We show the pyramid match yields a Mercer kernel, and we prove bounds on its error relative to the optimal partial matching cost. We demonstrate our algorithm on both classification and regression tasks, including object recognition, 3-D human pose inference, and time of publication estimation for documents, and we show that the proposed method is accurate and significantly more efficient than current approaches.