An overview and empirical comparison of distance metric learning methods

Panagiotis Moutafis, Mengjun Leng, Ioannis A. Kakadiaris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


In this paper, we first offer an overview of advances in the field of distance metric learning. Then, we empirically compare selected methods using a common experimental protocol. The number of distance metric learning algorithms proposed keeps growing due to their effectiveness and wide application. However, existing surveys are either outdated or they focus only on a few methods. As a result, there is an increasing need to summarize the obtained knowledge in a concise, yet informative manner. Moreover, existing surveys do not conduct comprehensive experimental comparisons. On the other hand, individual distance metric learning papers compare the performance of the proposed approach with only a few related methods and under different settings. This highlights the need for an experimental evaluation using a common and challenging protocol. To this end, we conduct face verification experiments, as this task poses significant challenges due to varying conditions during data acquisition. In addition, face verification is a natural application for distance metric learning because the encountered challenge is to define a distance function that: 1) accurately expresses the notion of similarity for verification; 2) is robust to noisy data; 3) generalizes well to unseen subjects; and 4) scales well with the dimensionality and number of training samples. In particular, we utilize well-tested features to assess the performance of selected methods following the experimental protocol of the state-of-the-art database labeled faces in the wild. A summary of the results is presented along with a discussion of the insights obtained and lessons learned by employing the corresponding algorithms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7407637
Pages (from-to)612-625
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cybernetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017


  • Dimensionality reduction
  • distance metric learning
  • face recognition
  • face verification
  • similarity learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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