Friday, April 8, 2022

Normalized Discounted Cumulative Gain in Scala

Target audience: Advanced
Estimated reading time: 10'

This post illustrates the Normalized Discounted Cumulative Gain (NDCG) and its implementation in Scala.
Numerous real-life applications of machine learning require the prediction the most relevant ranking of items to optimize an outcome. For instance
  • Evaluate and prioritize counter-measures to cyber-attach
  • Ranks symptoms in a clinical trial
  • Extract documents relevant to a given topic from a corpus
The Discounted Cumulative Gain (DCG) and its normalized counter part, Normalized Discounted Cumulative Gain (NDCG) is a metric original applied in textual information retrieval and extended to other domains.
This post uses Scala 2.11.8

Discounted Cumulative Gain

Let's dive into the mathematical formalism for the Discounted Cumulative Gain. 

For a indexed target values tj as illustrated in the diagram above, the discounted cumulative gain is computed as
\[DCG=\sum_{j=1}^{n}\frac{2^{t_{j}}-1}{log_{2}(j+1)}\] The objective is to compare any given list of ranked/sorted item with a benchmark which represent the optimum ranking (ranking with the highest DCG value).

Scala implementation

The implementation of the computation of NDCG in Scala is quite simple, indeed. Given a ranked list of items. The three steps are
  • Compute the IDCG (or normalization factor)from the list
  • Compute the DCG for the list
  • Compute the NDCG = DCG/IDCF
First let's consider list of items, of type T to rank. The method ranking to sort a sample of sorted items is provided as an implicit function. The constructor for NDCG has a single argument: the sample of ranking:

class NDCG[T](
   firstSample: Seq[T])
   (implicit ranking: T => Int) {
  import NDCG._

  val iDCG: Double = normalize

  def score: Double = score(initialSample)

  private def dcg(samples: Seq[T]): Double =
      (s, samplej) => s + compute(samplej._2 + 1, ranking(samplej._1))
      , _ + _)

  private def normalize: Double = {
    val sorted = initialSample.zipWithIndex.sortBy{
      case (sample, n) => -ranking(sample)
    }.map( _._1)

The Ideal Discounted Cumulative Gain, iDCG is computed through the normalize method (line 6). iDCG (normalization factor) is computed by first sorting the items of type T by their value in decreasing order (line 16), then scoring this re-sorted list using the dcg method (line 17). 
The computation of the Discounted Cumulative Gain by the method dcg (line 10) is a direct application of the formula described in the previous chapter.
Note: The logarithm function uses a base 2. It is computed as natural log(x)/natural log (2)

Let's now consider a list of items of type Item defined as follows: 

case class Item(id: String, x: Double, rank: Int)

The list of items, itemsList is implicitly ranked through the last attribute, rank.

val itemsList = Seq[Item](
  Item("1", 3.4, 4), Item("2", 1.4, 3),
  Item("3", -0.7, 5), Item("4", 5.2, 2), 
  Item("5", 1.4, 1))

implicit val ranking = (item: Item) => item.rank

It is time to compute the NDCG coefficient for the list of items, by invoking the score method.

val nDCG = new NDCG[Item](itemsList)

println(s"IDCG = ${nDCG.iDCG}")    //45.64
println(s"Score = ${nDCG.score}")  // 0.801

The ideal discounted cumulative gain, iDCG is 45.6: It is the optimum ranking for this list of time. The first sample score a probability of 0.8

Note The DCG of subsequent samples can be computed using the same iDCG value from the same instance of NDCG.

def score(samples: Seq[T]): Double =
  if( samples.size != initialSample.size) 0.0 
  else dcg(samples)/iDCG


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