Building an image search service from scratch

Many recommendation systems are based on collaborative filtering: leveraging user correlations to make recommendations (“users that liked the items you have liked have also liked…”). However, these models require a significant amount of data to be accurate, and struggle to handle new itemsthat have not yet been viewed by anyone. Item representation can be used in what’s called content-based recommendation systems, which do not suffer from the problem above.

In addition, these representations allow consumers to efficiently searchphoto libraries for images that are similar to the selfie they just took (querying by image), or for photos of particular items such as cars (querying by text). Common examples of this include Google Reverse Image Search, as well as Google Image Search.

Based on our experience providing technical mentorship for many semantic understanding projects, we wanted to write a tutorial on how you would go about building your own representations, both for image and text data, and efficiently do similarity search. By the end of this post, you should be able to build a quick semantic search model from scratch, no matter the size of your dataset.

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