Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Lucchese C., Nardini F. M., Perego R., Tonellotto N., Orlando S., Venturini R. Fast traversal of large ensembles of regression trees. In: ERCIM News, vol. 107 pp. 28 - 29. ERCIM, 2016.
The complexity of tree-based, machine-learnt models and their widespread use in web-scale systems requires novel algorithmic solutions to make the models fast and scalable, both in the learning phase and in the real-world. Machine-learnt models based on additive ensembles of regression trees have been shown to be very effective in several classification, regression, and ranking tasks. These ensemble models, generated by boosting meta-algorithms that iteratively learn and combine thousands of simple decision trees, are very demanding from a computational point of view. In fact, all the trees of the ensemble have to be traversed for each item to which the model is applied in order to compute their additive contribution to the final score. This high computational cost becomes a challenging issue in the case of large-scale applications. Consider, for example, the problem of ranking query results in a web-scale information retrieval system: the time budget available to rank the possibly huge number of candidate results is limited due to the incoming rate of queries and user expectations of quality-of-service. On the other hand, effective and complex rankers with thousands of trees have to be exploited to return precise and accurate results [1]. To improve the efficiency of these systems, in collaboration with Tiscali Italia S.p.A, we recently proposed QuickScorer (QS), a solution that remarkably improves the performance of the scoring process by dealing with features and characteristics of modern CPUs and memory hierarchies [2]. QS adopts a novel bit-vector representation of the tree-based model, and performs the traversal of the ensemble by means of simple logical bitwise operations. The traversal is not performed by QS one tree after another, as one would expect, but is instead interleaved, feature by feature, over the whole tree ensemble. Due to its cache-aware approach, both in terms of data layout and access patterns, and to a control flow that entails very low branch mis-prediction rates, the QS performance is impressive, resulting in speedups of up to 6.5x over state-of-the-art competitors.
URL: http://ercim-news.ercim.eu/en107/special/fast-traversal-of-large-ensembles-of-regression-trees
Subject Learning to rank
Efficient scoring
H.3.3 INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL. Information Search and Retrieval

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