We introduce a new notion of embedding, called minimum-relaxation ordinal embedding, parallel to the standard notion of minimum-distortion (metric) embedding. In an ordinal embedding, it is the relative order between pairs of distances, and not the distances themselves, that must be preserved as much as possible. The (multiplicative) relaxation of an ordinal embedding is the maximum ratio between two distances whose relative order is inverted by the embedding. We develop several worst-case bounds and approximation algorithms on ordinal embedding. In particular, we establish that ordinal embedding has many qualitative differences from metric embedding, and we capture the ordinal behavior of ultrametrics and shortest-path metrics of unweighted trees.
- Ordinal embedding