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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Decoding the Powerhouse: A Deep Dive into Semi-structured and Multi-modal RAG

Decoding the Powerhouse: A Deep Dive into Semi-structured and Multi-modal RAG

Remember the times you wished your favorite language model could handle not just plain text, but also those neat tables and catchy images in your data? Well, brace yourselves, because Semi-structured and Multi-modal RAG (Retrieve, Augment and Generate) is here to break down those data silos and unleash a new wave of information processing magic!

What is RAG?

RAG or Retrieval-Augmented Generation, is a powerful framework that combines the strengths of retrieval-based and generative models. It seamlessly integrates information retrieval and generation, allowing the model to fetch relevant content and generate context-aware responses.

So, what’s the big deal about RAG? Imagine a powerful librarian who not only finds relevant information hidden across text, tables and images, but also uses it to craft insightful answers and summaries. That’s RAG in a nutshell! But this enhanced version takes it a step further.

Understanding Semi-structured Data

Semi-structured data lies between structured and unstructured data, featuring some organizational elements but without the rigid structure of a relational database. In the context of RAG, semi-structured data can include JSON, XML or other formats that have a defined structure but offer flexibility.

Think of semi-structured data as those documents with a mix of organized tables and free-flowing text. Product catalogs, scientific reports, even your grocery list — they all fall under this category. With RAG, we can tap into both the structured nuggets in tables and the rich context in text, giving us a much deeper understanding of the information.

But wait, there’s more! Multi-modal RAG doesn’t stop at text and tables. It brings images into the party, too! Say you’re analyzing medical data with X-rays and patient notes. RAG can not only read the clinical text but also analyze the X-rays, spotting patterns and anomalies to provide comprehensive diagnoses.

Now that we’ve grasped the concepts, let’s outline the steps to implement Semi-structured and Multi-modal RAG:

1. Gather your data:

This could be a combination of text documents, tables and images relevant to your task.

2. Choose a Framework:

Select a deep learning framework that supports RAG models. Hugging Face’s Transformers library is a popular choice, providing pre-trained models and easy-to-use APIs.

3. Data Preprocessing:

Prepare your data, ensuring it aligns with the semi-structured or multi-modal format. Convert semi-structured data to a compatible format (e.g., JSON to tensors) and organize multi-modal data (text, images) for input.

4. Model Selection:

Choose a pre-trained RAG model that fits your requirements. For semi-structured data, models like DPR (Retrieval) can be fine-tuned. For multi-modal tasks, models like CLIP (Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training) are suitable. Popular options include CLIP and Sentence-BERT.
These models translate different data types (text, images) into a common language that RAG can understand.

5. Fine-tuning:

Fine-tune the selected model on your specific dataset. Adjust parameters based on the nature of your data and task.
This uses the embeddings to find relevant information across your data, regardless of its format. Think of it as a super-powered search engine!

Feed the retrieved information to the RAG model along with your desired outputs (e.g., summaries, answers). This trains RAG to understand the connections between different data types and generate coherent, informative responses.

6. Integration:

Integrate the model into your application, ensuring seamless communication between the retrieval and generation components.

7. Evaluation:

Evaluate the model’s performance using relevant metrics and real-world scenarios. Tweak parameters or data as needed.

8. Deployment:

Deploy your RAG model in a production environment, considering scalability, latency and security aspects.

Now, let’s break it down with some real-world examples:

  • E-commerce product search: Imagine searching for “blue sneakers” and getting results that not only match the keyword but also understand your style preferences through the images you’ve viewed before. RAG, using its text and image understanding, could show you not just blue sneakers, but trendy ones that fit your vibe!
  • Customer service chatbot: Tired of bots parroting FAQs? RAG can analyze customer queries, relevant product documentation and even tutorial videos to provide personalized, context-aware help, even if the information is scattered across different formats.
  • Scientific research: Analyzing massive datasets with complex figures and tables is a breeze with RAG. It can pull out key insights, generate summaries and even answer your questions about the data, all by understanding the intricate relationships between text, tables and figures.


Semi-structured and Multi-modal RAG bring a new dimension to natural language understanding and generation. By combining structured and multi-modal information, these models offer more contextually rich and personalized responses.

Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg! Semi-structured and Multi-modal RAG has boundless potential in various fields like healthcare, finance, education and beyond. So, dive in, explore and unleash the power of this revolutionary technology!

So, how do you get started with this mind-blowing technology? It’s easier than you think!

Bonus tip: Check out the LangChain Project’s “Semi-structured and Multi-modal RAG cookbooks” on GitHub for detailed implementation steps and code examples. Also, a detailed blog post on Multi-Vector Retriever for RAG on tables, text and images.

I hope this blog post was insightful and interactive. Feel free to share your thoughts on this exciting new frontier of information processing!

Happy tinkering!

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