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Richard Mccreadie

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Large Multi-modal Encoders for Recommendation

Nov 03, 2023
Zixuan Yi, Zijun Long, Iadh Ounis, Craig Macdonald, Richard Mccreadie

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In recent years, the rapid growth of online multimedia services, such as e-commerce platforms, has necessitated the development of personalised recommendation approaches that can encode diverse content about each item. Indeed, modern multi-modal recommender systems exploit diverse features obtained from raw images and item descriptions to enhance the recommendation performance. However, the existing multi-modal recommenders primarily depend on the features extracted individually from different media through pre-trained modality-specific encoders, and exhibit only shallow alignments between different modalities - limiting these systems' ability to capture the underlying relationships between the modalities. In this paper, we investigate the usage of large multi-modal encoders within the specific context of recommender systems, as these have previously demonstrated state-of-the-art effectiveness when ranking items across various domains. Specifically, we tailor two state-of-the-art multi-modal encoders (CLIP and VLMo) for recommendation tasks using a range of strategies, including the exploration of pre-trained and fine-tuned encoders, as well as the assessment of the end-to-end training of these encoders. We demonstrate that pre-trained large multi-modal encoders can generate more aligned and effective user/item representations compared to existing modality-specific encoders across three multi-modal recommendation datasets. Furthermore, we show that fine-tuning these large multi-modal encoders with recommendation datasets leads to an enhanced recommendation performance. In terms of different training paradigms, our experiments highlight the essential role of the end-to-end training of large multi-modal encoders in multi-modal recommendation systems.

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