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Vector Search Is Not All You Want | by Anthony Alcaraz | Sep, 2023

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Towards Data Science

Retrieval Augmented Era (RAG) has revolutionized open-domain query answering, enabling programs to supply human-like responses to a wide selection of queries. On the coronary heart of RAG lies a retrieval module that scans an unlimited corpus to search out related context passages, that are then processed by a neural generative module — typically a pre-trained language mannequin like GPT-3 — to formulate a last reply.

Whereas this strategy has been extremely efficient, it’s not with out its limitations.

Probably the most important parts, the vector search over embedded passages, has inherent constraints that may hamper the system’s potential to cause in a nuanced method. That is notably evident when questions require advanced multi-hop reasoning throughout a number of paperwork.

Vector search refers to looking for info utilizing vector representations of information. It entails two key steps:

  1. Encoding information into vectors

First, the information being searched is encoded into numeric vector representations. For textual content information like passages or paperwork, that is performed utilizing embedding fashions like BERT or RoBERTa. These fashions convert textual content into dense vectors of steady numbers that signify the semantic that means. Photos, audio, and different codecs may also be encoded into vectors utilizing acceptable deep studying fashions.

2. Looking utilizing vector similarity

As soon as information is encoded into vectors, looking entails discovering vectors much like the vector illustration of the search question. This depends on distance metrics like cosine similarity to quantify how shut two vectors are and rank outcomes. The vectors with the smallest distance (highest similarity) are returned as probably the most related search hits.

The important thing benefit of vector search is the flexibility to seek for semantic similarity, not simply literal key phrase matches. The vector representations seize conceptual that means, permitting extra related but linguistically distinct outcomes to be recognized. This allows the next high quality of search in comparison with conventional key phrase matching.

Nonetheless, reworking information into vectors and looking in high-dimensional semantic house additionally comes with limitations. Balancing the tradeoffs of vector search is an lively space of analysis.

On this article, we’ll dissect the restrictions of vector search, exploring why it struggles to…

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