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Learning Colour Representations of Search Queries

43rd International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR 2020)

Published July 25, 2020

Paridhi Maheshwari, Manoj Ghuhan, Vishwa Vinay

Image search engines rely on appropriately designed ranking features that capture various aspects of the content semantics as well as the historic popularity. In this work, we consider the role of colour in this relevance matching process. Our work is motivated by the observation that a significant fraction of user queries have an inherent colour associated with them. While some queries contain explicit colour mentions (such as 'black car' and 'yellow daisies'), other queries have implicit notions of colour (such as 'sky' and 'grass'). Furthermore, grounding queries in colour is not a mapping to a single colour, but a distribution in colour space. For instance, a search for 'trees' tends to have a bimodal distribution around the colours green and brown. We leverage historical clickthrough data to produce a colour representation for search queries and propose a recurrent neural network architecture to encode unseen queries into colour space. We also show how this embedding can be learnt alongside a cross-modal relevance ranker from impression logs where a subset of the result images were clicked. We demonstrate that the use of a query-image colour distance feature leads to an improvement in the ranker performance as measured by users' preferences of clicked versus skipped images.

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