Transformer-based models are nowadays state-of-the-art in adhoc Information Retrieval, but their behavior is far from being understood. Recent work has claimed that BERT does not satisfy the classical IR axioms. However, we propose to dissect the matching process of ColBERT, through the analysis of term importance and exact/soft matching patterns. Even if the traditional axioms are not formally verified, our analysis reveals that ColBERT (i) is able to capture a notion of term importance; (ii) relies on exact matches for important terms.
Published on arXiv.org