Accepted Papers

Deep Semantic Product Search

Vihan Lakshman, Vijai Mohan, Priyanka Nigam, Yiwei Song, Weitian Ding, Ankit Shingavi, Choon Hui Teo, Hao Gu and Bing Yin


We study the problem of semantic matching in product search, that is, given a customer query, retrieve all semantically related products from the catalog. Pure lexical matching via an inverted index falls short in this respect due to several factors: a) lack of understanding of hypernyms, synonyms, and antonyms, b) fragility to morphological variants (e.g. “woman” vs. “women”), and c) sensitivity to spelling errors. To address these issues, we train a deep learning model for semantic matching using customer behavior data. Much of the recent work on large-scale semantic search using deep learning focuses on ranking for web search. In contrast, semantic matching for product search presents several novel challenges, which we elucidate in this paper. We address these challenges by a) developing a new loss function that has an inbuilt threshold to differentiate between random negative examples, impressed but not purchased examples, and positive examples (purchased items), b) using average pooling in conjunction with n-grams to capture short-range linguistic patterns, c) using hashing to handle out of vocabulary tokens, and d) using a model parallel training architecture to scale across 8 GPUs. We present compelling offline results that demonstrate at least 4.7% improvement in [email protected] and 14.5% improvement in mean average precision (MAP) over baseline state-of-the-art semantic search methods using the same tokenization method. Moreover, we present results and discuss learnings from online A/B tests which demonstrate the efficacy of our method.

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