Sequential recommendation is to predict the next item of interest for a user, based on her/his interaction history with previous items. In conventional sequential recommenders, a common approach is to model item sequences using discrete IDs, learning representations that encode sequential behaviors and reflect user preferences. Inspired by recent success in empowering large language models (LLMs) to understand and reason over diverse modality data (e.g., image, audio, 3D points), a compelling research question arises: ``Can LLMs understand and work with hidden representations from ID-based sequential recommenders?''.To answer this, we propose a simple framework, RecInterpreter, which examines the capacity of open-source LLMs to decipher the representation space of sequential recommenders. Specifically, with the multimodal pairs (\ie representations of interaction sequence and text narrations), RecInterpreter first uses a lightweight adapter to map the representations into the token embedding space of the LLM. Subsequently, it constructs a sequence-recovery prompt that encourages the LLM to generate textual descriptions for items within the interaction sequence. Taking a step further, we propose a sequence-residual prompt instead, which guides the LLM in identifying the residual item by contrasting the representations before and after integrating this residual into the existing sequence. Empirical results showcase that our RecInterpreter enhances the exemplar LLM, LLaMA, to understand hidden representations from ID-based sequential recommenders, especially when guided by our sequence-residual prompts. Furthermore, RecInterpreter enables LLaMA to instantiate the oracle items generated by generative recommenders like DreamRec, concreting the item a user would ideally like to interact with next. Codes are available at https://github.com/YangZhengyi98/RecInterpreter.
Leveraging Large Language Models as Recommenders (LLMRec) has gained significant attention and introduced fresh perspectives in user preference modeling. Existing LLMRec approaches prioritize text semantics, usually neglecting the valuable collaborative information from user-item interactions in recommendations. While these text-emphasizing approaches excel in cold-start scenarios, they may yield sub-optimal performance in warm-start situations. In pursuit of superior recommendations for both cold and warm start scenarios, we introduce CoLLM, an innovative LLMRec methodology that seamlessly incorporates collaborative information into LLMs for recommendation. CoLLM captures collaborative information through an external traditional model and maps it to the input token embedding space of LLM, forming collaborative embeddings for LLM usage. Through this external integration of collaborative information, CoLLM ensures effective modeling of collaborative information without modifying the LLM itself, providing the flexibility to employ various collaborative information modeling techniques. Extensive experiments validate that CoLLM adeptly integrates collaborative information into LLMs, resulting in enhanced recommendation performance. We release the code and data at https://github.com/zyang1580/CoLLM.
Reinforcement learning (RL) has been widely applied in recommendation systems due to its potential in optimizing the long-term engagement of users. From the perspective of RL, recommendation can be formulated as a Markov decision process (MDP), where recommendation system (agent) can interact with users (environment) and acquire feedback (reward signals).However, it is impractical to conduct online interactions with the concern on user experience and implementation complexity, and we can only train RL recommenders with offline datasets containing limited reward signals and state transitions. Therefore, the data sparsity issue of reward signals and state transitions is very severe, while it has long been overlooked by existing RL recommenders.Worse still, RL methods learn through the trial-and-error mode, but negative feedback cannot be obtained in implicit feedback recommendation tasks, which aggravates the overestimation problem of offline RL recommender. To address these challenges, we propose a novel RL recommender named model-enhanced contrastive reinforcement learning (MCRL). On the one hand, we learn a value function to estimate the long-term engagement of users, together with a conservative value learning mechanism to alleviate the overestimation problem.On the other hand, we construct some positive and negative state-action pairs to model the reward function and state transition function with contrastive learning to exploit the internal structure information of MDP. Experiments demonstrate that the proposed method significantly outperforms existing offline RL and self-supervised RL methods with different representative backbone networks on two real-world datasets.
As the focus on Large Language Models (LLMs) in the field of recommendation intensifies, the optimization of LLMs for recommendation purposes (referred to as LLM4Rec) assumes a crucial role in augmenting their effectiveness in providing recommendations. However, existing approaches for LLM4Rec often assess performance using restricted sets of candidates, which may not accurately reflect the models' overall ranking capabilities. In this paper, our objective is to investigate the comprehensive ranking capacity of LLMs and propose a two-step grounding framework known as BIGRec (Bi-step Grounding Paradigm for Recommendation). It initially grounds LLMs to the recommendation space by fine-tuning them to generate meaningful tokens for items and subsequently identifies appropriate actual items that correspond to the generated tokens. By conducting extensive experiments on two datasets, we substantiate the superior performance, capacity for handling few-shot scenarios, and versatility across multiple domains exhibited by BIGRec. Furthermore, we observe that the marginal benefits derived from increasing the quantity of training samples are modest for BIGRec, implying that LLMs possess the limited capability to assimilate statistical information, such as popularity and collaborative filtering, due to their robust semantic priors. These findings also underline the efficacy of integrating diverse statistical information into the LLM4Rec framework, thereby pointing towards a potential avenue for future research. Our code and data are available at https://github.com/SAI990323/Grounding4Rec.
Large Language Models have demonstrated significant ability in accomplishing a wide range of Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks. However, their performance is highly sensitive to the even minor changes in the phrasing of the task instructions, leading to a line of research in automatic instruction optimization towards better performance for NLP tasks. Unfortunately, existing methods for instruction optimization fail to consider the distribution shift between the seen training data and the unseen test data, where testing on unseen group of data with a different distribution could potentially lead to performance drop. In this paper, we take an initial step of investigating the problem of LLM instruction optimization across data groups with distribution shifts. We find that the optimal instructions do encounter performance drops on LLM under certain distribution shifts. To this end, we propose a framework to derive more robust optimal instructions that improve the performance on the unseen data group without large sacrifice on the seen data group. Experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed framework.
The remarkable achievements of Large Language Models (LLMs) have led to the emergence of a novel recommendation paradigm -- Recommendation via LLM (RecLLM). Nevertheless, it is important to note that LLMs may contain social prejudices, and therefore, the fairness of recommendations made by RecLLM requires further investigation. To avoid the potential risks of RecLLM, it is imperative to evaluate the fairness of RecLLM with respect to various sensitive attributes on the user side. Due to the differences between the RecLLM paradigm and the traditional recommendation paradigm, it is problematic to directly use the fairness benchmark of traditional recommendation. To address the dilemma, we propose a novel benchmark called Fairness of Recommendation via LLM (FaiRLLM). This benchmark comprises carefully crafted metrics and a dataset that accounts for eight sensitive attributes1 in two recommendation scenarios: music and movies. By utilizing our FaiRLLM benchmark, we conducted an evaluation of ChatGPT and discovered that it still exhibits unfairness to some sensitive attributes when generating recommendations. Our code and dataset can be found at https://github.com/jizhi-zhang/FaiRLLM.
Large Language Models (LLMs) have demonstrated remarkable performance across diverse domains, thereby prompting researchers to explore their potential for use in recommendation systems. Initial attempts have leveraged the exceptional capabilities of LLMs, such as rich knowledge and strong generalization through In-context Learning, which involves phrasing the recommendation task as prompts. Nevertheless, the performance of LLMs in recommendation tasks remains suboptimal due to a substantial disparity between the training tasks for LLMs and recommendation tasks, as well as inadequate recommendation data during pre-training. To bridge the gap, we consider building a Large Recommendation Language Model by tunning LLMs with recommendation data. To this end, we propose an efficient and effective Tuning framework for Aligning LLMs with Recommendation, namely TALLRec. We have demonstrated that the proposed TALLRec framework can significantly enhance the recommendation capabilities of LLMs in the movie and book domains, even with a limited dataset of fewer than 100 samples. Additionally, the proposed framework is highly efficient and can be executed on a single RTX 3090 with LLaMA-7B. Furthermore, the fine-tuned LLM exhibits robust cross-domain generalization. Our code and data are available at https://github.com/SAI990323/TALLRec.
Negative sampling has been heavily used to train recommender models on large-scale data, wherein sampling hard examples usually not only accelerates the convergence but also improves the model accuracy. Nevertheless, the reasons for the effectiveness of Hard Negative Sampling (HNS) have not been revealed yet. In this work, we fill the research gap by conducting thorough theoretical analyses on HNS. Firstly, we prove that employing HNS on the Bayesian Personalized Ranking (BPR) learner is equivalent to optimizing One-way Partial AUC (OPAUC). Concretely, the BPR equipped with Dynamic Negative Sampling (DNS) is an exact estimator, while with softmax-based sampling is a soft estimator. Secondly, we prove that OPAUC has a stronger connection with Top-K evaluation metrics than AUC and verify it with simulation experiments. These analyses establish the theoretical foundation of HNS in optimizing Top-K recommendation performance for the first time. On these bases, we offer two insightful guidelines for effective usage of HNS: 1) the sampling hardness should be controllable, e.g., via pre-defined hyper-parameters, to adapt to different Top-K metrics and datasets; 2) the smaller the $K$ we emphasize in Top-K evaluation metrics, the harder the negative samples we should draw. Extensive experiments on three real-world benchmarks verify the two guidelines.
Present language understanding methods have demonstrated extraordinary ability of recognizing patterns in texts via machine learning. However, existing methods indiscriminately use the recognized patterns in the testing phase that is inherently different from us humans who have counterfactual thinking, e.g., to scrutinize for the hard testing samples. Inspired by this, we propose a Counterfactual Reasoning Model, which mimics the counterfactual thinking by learning from few counterfactual samples. In particular, we devise a generation module to generate representative counterfactual samples for each factual sample, and a retrospective module to retrospect the model prediction by comparing the counterfactual and factual samples. Extensive experiments on sentiment analysis (SA) and natural language inference (NLI) validate the effectiveness of our method.