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# Adaptive Sampled Softmax with Kernel Based Sampling

*Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning*, PMLR 80:590-599, 2018.

#### Abstract

Softmax is the most commonly used output function for multiclass problems and is widely used in areas such as vision, natural language processing, and recommendation. A softmax model has linear costs in the number of classes which makes it too expensive for many real-world problems. A common approach to speed up training involves sampling only some of the classes at each training step. It is known that this method is biased and that the bias increases the more the sampling distribution deviates from the output distribution. Nevertheless, almost all recent work uses simple sampling distributions that require a large sample size to mitigate the bias. In this work, we propose a new class of kernel based sampling methods and develop an efficient sampling algorithm. Kernel based sampling adapts to the model as it is trained, thus resulting in low bias. It can also be easily applied to many models because it relies only on the model’s last hidden layer. We empirically study the trade-off of bias, sampling distribution and sample size and show that kernel based sampling results in low bias with few samples.