Fairness problems in recommender systems often have a complexity in practice that is not adequately captured in simplified research formulations. A social choice formulation of the fairness problem, operating within a multi-agent architecture of fairness concerns, offers a flexible and multi-aspect alternative to fairness-aware recommendation approaches. Leveraging social choice allows for increased generality and the possibility of tapping into well-studied social choice algorithms for resolving the tension between multiple, competing fairness concerns. This paper explores a range of options for choice mechanisms in multi-aspect fairness applications using both real and synthetic data and shows that different classes of choice and allocation mechanisms yield different but consistent fairness / accuracy tradeoffs. We also show that a multi-agent formulation offers flexibility in adapting to user population dynamics.
Algorithmic fairness in the context of personalized recommendation presents significantly different challenges to those commonly encountered in classification tasks. Researchers studying classification have generally considered fairness to be a matter of achieving equality of outcomes between a protected and unprotected group, and built algorithmic interventions on this basis. We argue that fairness in real-world application settings in general, and especially in the context of personalized recommendation, is much more complex and multi-faceted, requiring a more general approach. We propose a model to formalize multistakeholder fairness in recommender systems as a two stage social choice problem. In particular, we express recommendation fairness as a novel combination of an allocation and an aggregation problem, which integrate both fairness concerns and personalized recommendation provisions, and derive new recommendation techniques based on this formulation. Simulations demonstrate the ability of the framework to integrate multiple fairness concerns in a dynamic way.
Fairness-aware recommender systems that have a provider-side fairness concern seek to ensure that protected group(s) of providers have a fair opportunity to promote their items or products. There is a ``cost of fairness'' borne by the consumer side of the interaction when such a solution is implemented. This consumer-side cost raises its own questions of fairness, particularly when personalization is used to control the impact of the fairness constraint. In adopting a personalized approach to the fairness objective, researchers may be opening their systems up to strategic behavior on the part of users. This type of incentive has been studied in the computational social choice literature under the terminology of ``bossiness''. The concern is that a bossy user may be able to shift the cost of fairness to others, improving their own outcomes and worsening those for others. This position paper introduces the concept of bossiness, shows its application in fairness-aware recommendation and discusses strategies for reducing this strategic incentive.
Exposure bias is a well-known issue in recommender systems where items and suppliers are not equally represented in the recommendation results. This is especially problematic when bias is amplified over time as a few popular items are repeatedly over-represented in recommendation lists. This phenomenon can be viewed as a recommendation feedback loop: the system repeatedly recommends certain items at different time points and interactions of users with those items will amplify bias towards those items over time. This issue has been extensively studied in the literature on model-based or neighborhood-based recommendation algorithms, but less work has been done on online recommendation models such as those based on multi-armed Bandit algorithms. In this paper, we study exposure bias in a class of well-known bandit algorithms known as Linear Cascade Bandits. We analyze these algorithms on their ability to handle exposure bias and provide a fair representation for items and suppliers in the recommendation results. Our analysis reveals that these algorithms fail to treat items and suppliers fairly and do not sufficiently explore the item space for each user. To mitigate this bias, we propose a discounting factor and incorporate it into these algorithms that controls the exposure of items at each time step. To show the effectiveness of the proposed discounting factor on mitigating exposure bias, we perform experiments on two datasets using three cascading bandit algorithms and our experimental results show that the proposed method improves the exposure fairness for items and suppliers.
Fairness is a critical system-level objective in recommender systems that has been the subject of extensive recent research. A specific form of fairness is supplier exposure fairness where the objective is to ensure equitable coverage of items across all suppliers in recommendations provided to users. This is especially important in multistakeholder recommendation scenarios where it may be important to optimize utilities not just for the end-user, but also for other stakeholders such as item sellers or producers who desire a fair representation of their items. This type of supplier fairness is sometimes accomplished by attempting to increasing aggregate diversity in order to mitigate popularity bias and to improve the coverage of long-tail items in recommendations. In this paper, we introduce FairMatch, a general graph-based algorithm that works as a post processing approach after recommendation generation to improve exposure fairness for items and suppliers. The algorithm iteratively adds high quality items that have low visibility or items from suppliers with low exposure to the users' final recommendation lists. A comprehensive set of experiments on two datasets and comparison with state-of-the-art baselines show that FairMatch, while significantly improves exposure fairness and aggregate diversity, maintains an acceptable level of relevance of the recommendations.
* arXiv admin note: substantial text overlap with arXiv:2005.01148
Recommendation, information retrieval, and other information access systems pose unique challenges for investigating and applying the fairness and non-discrimination concepts that have been developed for studying other machine learning systems. While fair information access shares many commonalities with fair classification, the multistakeholder nature of information access applications, the rank-based problem setting, the centrality of personalization in many cases, and the role of user response complicate the problem of identifying precisely what types and operationalizations of fairness may be relevant, let alone measuring or promoting them. In this monograph, we present a taxonomy of the various dimensions of fair information access and survey the literature to date on this new and rapidly-growing topic. We preface this with brief introductions to information access and algorithmic fairness, to facilitate use of this work by scholars with experience in one (or neither) of these fields who wish to learn about their intersection. We conclude with several open problems in fair information access, along with some suggestions for how to approach research in this space.
* Currently under review. Please send comments to the authors
Though recommender systems are defined by personalization, recent work has shown the importance of additional, beyond-accuracy objectives, such as fairness. Because users often expect their recommendations to be purely personalized, these new algorithmic objectives must be communicated transparently in a fairness-aware recommender system. While explanation has a long history in recommender systems research, there has been little work that attempts to explain systems that use a fairness objective. Even though the previous work in other branches of AI has explored the use of explanations as a tool to increase fairness, this work has not been focused on recommendation. Here, we consider user perspectives of fairness-aware recommender systems and techniques for enhancing their transparency. We describe the results of an exploratory interview study that investigates user perceptions of fairness, recommender systems, and fairness-aware objectives. We propose three features -- informed by the needs of our participants -- that could improve user understanding of and trust in fairness-aware recommender systems.
Recommendation and ranking systems are known to suffer from popularity bias; the tendency of the algorithm to favor a few popular items while under-representing the majority of other items. Prior research has examined various approaches for mitigating popularity bias and enhancing the recommendation of long-tail, less popular, items. The effectiveness of these approaches is often assessed using different metrics to evaluate the extent to which over-concentration on popular items is reduced. However, not much attention has been given to the user-centered evaluation of this bias; how different users with different levels of interest towards popular items are affected by such algorithms. In this paper, we show the limitations of the existing metrics to evaluate popularity bias mitigation when we want to assess these algorithms from the users' perspective and we propose a new metric that can address these limitations. In addition, we present an effective approach that mitigates popularity bias from the user-centered point of view. Finally, we investigate several state-of-the-art approaches proposed in recent years to mitigate popularity bias and evaluate their performances using the existing metrics and also from the users' perspective. Our experimental results using two publicly-available datasets show that existing popularity bias mitigation techniques ignore the users' tolerance towards popular items. Our proposed user-centered method can tackle popularity bias effectively for different users while also improving the existing metrics.
* Proceedings of the 29th ACM Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation
and Personalization (UMAP '21), June 21--25, 2021, Utrecht, Netherlands.
arXiv admin note: text overlap with arXiv:2007.12230
Language varies across users and their interested fields in social media data: words authored by a user across his/her interests may have different meanings (e.g., cool) or sentiments (e.g., fast). However, most of the existing methods to train user embeddings ignore the variations across user interests, such as product and movie categories (e.g., drama vs. action). In this study, we treat the user interest as domains and empirically examine how the user language can vary across the user factor in three English social media datasets. We then propose a user embedding model to account for the language variability of user interests via a multitask learning framework. The model learns user language and its variations without human supervision. While existing work mainly evaluated the user embedding by extrinsic tasks, we propose an intrinsic evaluation via clustering and evaluate user embeddings by an extrinsic task, text classification. The experiments on the three English-language social media datasets show that our proposed approach can generally outperform baselines via adapting the user factor.
* Accepted in the Second Workshop on Domain Adaptation for Natural
Language Processing (Adapted-NLP)