# Learning Graph Matching

As a fundamental problem in pattern recognition, graph matching has found a variety of applications in the field of computer vision. In graph matching, patterns are modeled as graphs and pattern recognition amounts to finding a correspondence between the nodes of different graphs. There are many ways in which the problem has been formulated, but most can be cast in general as a quadratic assignment problem, where a linear term in the objective function encodes node compatibility functions and a quadratic term encodes edge compatibility functions. The main research focus in this theme is about designing efficient algorithms for solving approximately the quadratic assignment problem, since it is NP-hard. In this paper, we turn our attention to the complementary problem: how to estimate compatibility functions such that the solution of the resulting graph matching problem best matches the expected solution that a human would manually provide. We present a method for learning graph matching: the training examples are pairs of graphs and the “labels” are matchings between pairs of graphs. We present experimental results with real image data which give evidence that learning can improve the performance of standard graph matching algorithms. In particular, it turns out that linear assignment with such a learning scheme may improve over state-of-the-art quadratic assignment relaxations. This finding suggests that for a range of problems where quadratic assignment was thought to be essential for securing good results, linear assignment, which is far more ef icient, could be just sufficient if learning is performed. This enables speed-ups of graph matching by up to 4 orders of magnitude while retaining state-of-the-art accuracy.

*Author: Alexander J. Smola, Australian National University - ANU*