Not So Random Software #30 – Learning to rank

Hello everyone and welcome back to Not So Random Software!

It’s been a while since I blogged about neural networks and how to use them to rank a set of items based on the users’ preferences. The blog was in 2015 and a lot has happened since then. I think it might be a good time to recap some of the resources that I stumbled upon over this period. Hope you enjoy this random selection of links!

A random article or paper

Applying deep learning to Airbnb search

When I started looking at pairwise ranking in this article a few years ago the community was quite young. I was very pleased to see that in 2018 Airbnb published this article presenting their results using a real production dataset. The article does not only show the end result but also walks you through some of the failures they had along the journey. Inspirational!

A random video or podcast

Learning from ranks, learning to rank – Jean-Philippe Vert, Google Brain

In this video published by the Alan Turing Institute, Jean-Philippe Vert from Google Brain presents his research on learning to rank. Lots of formulas ahead, but a very strong foundation if you want to understand how to properly formalize this machine learning problem.

A random book

Neural Networks and Deep Learning, Springer

Because of COVID the Springer website made a number of very high-quality books available for free to download. If you didn’t catch the opportunity now is the time to grab this book on Neural Networks and Deep Learning.

A random tool

Ruby-fann gem for simple neural networks in Ruby

RubyFann, or “ruby-fann” is a ruby gem that binds to FANN (Fast Artificial Neural Network) from within a ruby/rails environment. FANN is a free (native) open-source neural network library, which implements multilayer artificial neural networks, supporting both fully-connected and sparsely-connected networks. It is easy to use, versatile, well documented, and fast. RubyFann makes working with neural networks a breeze using ruby, with the added benefit that most of the heavy lifting is done natively.

A random line of code

Ruby-fann is a set of bindings to the native library written in C. The API is super simple to start with, literally 5 lines of code!

A random quote

If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.

Albert Einstein

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