Categorical data are ubiquitous in machine learning tasks, and the representation of categorical data plays an important role in the learning performance. The heterogeneous coupling relationships between features and feature values reflect the characteristics of the real-world categorical data which need to be captured in the representations. The paper proposes an enhanced categorical data embedding method, i.e., CDE++, which captures the heterogeneous feature value coupling relationships into the representations. Based on information theory and the hierarchical couplings defined in our previous work CDE (Categorical Data Embedding by learning hierarchical value coupling), CDE++ adopts mutual information and margin entropy to capture feature couplings and designs a hybrid clustering strategy to capture multiple types of feature value clusters. Moreover, Autoencoder is used to learn non-linear couplings between features and value clusters. The categorical data embeddings generated by CDE++ are low-dimensional numerical vectors which are directly applied to clustering and classification and achieve the best performance comparing with other categorical representation learning methods. Parameter sensitivity and scalability tests are also conducted to demonstrate the superiority of CDE++.
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