Contrastive learning (CL) has recently gained significant popularity in the field of recommendation. Its ability to learn without heavy reliance on labeled data is a natural antidote to the data sparsity issue. Previous research has found that CL can not only enhance recommendation accuracy but also inadvertently exhibit remarkable robustness against noise. However, this paper identifies a vulnerability of CL-based recommender systems: Compared with their non-CL counterparts, they are even more susceptible to poisoning attacks that aim to promote target items. Our analysis points to the uniform dispersion of representations led by the CL loss as the very factor that accounts for this vulnerability. We further theoretically and empirically demonstrate that the optimization of CL loss can lead to smooth spectral values of representations. Based on these insights, we attempt to reveal the potential poisoning attacks against CL-based recommender systems. The proposed attack encompasses a dual-objective framework: One that induces a smoother spectral value distribution to amplify the CL loss's inherent dispersion effect, named dispersion promotion; and the other that directly elevates the visibility of target items, named rank promotion. We validate the destructiveness of our attack model through extensive experimentation on four datasets. By shedding light on these vulnerabilities, we aim to facilitate the development of more robust CL-based recommender systems.
The number of publications related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continues to grow. These publications cover a diverse spectrum of research, from humanities and social sciences to engineering and health. Given the imperative of funding bodies to monitor outcomes and impacts, linking publications to relevant SDGs is critical but remains time-consuming and difficult given the breadth and complexity of the SDGs. A publication may relate to several goals (interconnection feature of goals), and therefore require multidisciplinary knowledge to tag accurately. Machine learning approaches are promising and have proven particularly valuable for tasks such as manual data labeling and text classification. In this study, we employed over 82,000 publications from an Australian university as a case study. We utilized a similarity measure to map these publications onto Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, we leveraged the OpenAI GPT model to conduct the same task, facilitating a comparative analysis between the two approaches. Experimental results show that about 82.89% of the results obtained by the similarity measure overlap (at least one tag) with the outputs of the GPT model. The adopted model (similarity measure) can complement GPT model for SDG classification. Furthermore, deep learning methods, which include the similarity measure used here, are more accessible and trusted for dealing with sensitive data without the use of commercial AI services or the deployment of expensive computing resources to operate large language models. Our study demonstrates how a crafted combination of the two methods can achieve reliable results for mapping research to the SDGs.
Due to the imbalanced nature of networked observational data, the causal effect predictions for some individuals can severely violate the positivity/overlap assumption, rendering unreliable estimations. Nevertheless, this potential risk of individual-level treatment effect estimation on networked data has been largely under-explored. To create a more trustworthy causal effect estimator, we propose the uncertainty-aware graph deep kernel learning (GraphDKL) framework with Lipschitz constraint to model the prediction uncertainty with Gaussian process and identify unreliable estimations. To the best of our knowledge, GraphDKL is the first framework to tackle the violation of positivity assumption when performing causal effect estimation with graphs. With extensive experiments, we demonstrate the superiority of our proposed method in uncertainty-aware causal effect estimation on networked data.
To date, various neural methods have been proposed for causal effect estimation based on observational data, where a default assumption is the same distribution and availability of variables at both training and inference (i.e., runtime) stages. However, distribution shift (i.e., domain shift) could happen during runtime, and bigger challenges arise from the impaired accessibility of variables. This is commonly caused by increasing privacy and ethical concerns, which can make arbitrary variables unavailable in the entire runtime data and imputation impractical. We term the co-occurrence of domain shift and inaccessible variables runtime domain corruption, which seriously impairs the generalizability of a trained counterfactual predictor. To counter runtime domain corruption, we subsume counterfactual prediction under the notion of domain adaptation. Specifically, we upper-bound the error w.r.t. the target domain (i.e., runtime covariates) by the sum of source domain error and inter-domain distribution distance. In addition, we build an adversarially unified variational causal effect model, named VEGAN, with a novel two-stage adversarial domain adaptation scheme to reduce the latent distribution disparity between treated and control groups first, and between training and runtime variables afterwards. We demonstrate that VEGAN outperforms other state-of-the-art baselines on individual-level treatment effect estimation in the presence of runtime domain corruption on benchmark datasets.