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Xiangnan He

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Large Language Model Can Interpret Latent Space of Sequential Recommender

Oct 31, 2023
Zhengyi Yang, Jiancan Wu, Yanchen Luo, Jizhi Zhang, Yancheng Yuan, An Zhang, Xiang Wang, Xiangnan He

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

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Generate What You Prefer: Reshaping Sequential Recommendation via Guided Diffusion

Oct 31, 2023
Zhengyi Yang, Jiancan Wu, Zhicai Wang, Xiang Wang, Yancheng Yuan, Xiangnan He

Sequential recommendation aims to recommend the next item that matches a user's interest, based on the sequence of items he/she interacted with before. Scrutinizing previous studies, we can summarize a common learning-to-classify paradigm -- given a positive item, a recommender model performs negative sampling to add negative items and learns to classify whether the user prefers them or not, based on his/her historical interaction sequence. Although effective, we reveal two inherent limitations:(1) it may differ from human behavior in that a user could imagine an oracle item in mind and select potential items matching the oracle; and (2) the classification is limited in the candidate pool with noisy or easy supervision from negative samples, which dilutes the preference signals towards the oracle item. Yet, generating the oracle item from the historical interaction sequence is mostly unexplored. To bridge the gap, we reshape sequential recommendation as a learning-to-generate paradigm, which is achieved via a guided diffusion model, termed DreamRec.Specifically, for a sequence of historical items, it applies a Transformer encoder to create guidance representations. Noising target items explores the underlying distribution of item space; then, with the guidance of historical interactions, the denoising process generates an oracle item to recover the positive item, so as to cast off negative sampling and depict the true preference of the user directly. We evaluate the effectiveness of DreamRec through extensive experiments and comparisons with existing methods. Codes and data are open-sourced at

* NeurIPS 2023  
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CoLLM: Integrating Collaborative Embeddings into Large Language Models for Recommendation

Oct 30, 2023
Yang Zhang, Fuli Feng, Jizhi Zhang, Keqin Bao, Qifan Wang, Xiangnan He

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

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Model-enhanced Contrastive Reinforcement Learning for Sequential Recommendation

Oct 25, 2023
Chengpeng Li, Zhengyi Yang, Jizhi Zhang, Jiancan Wu, Dingxian Wang, Xiangnan He, Xiang Wang

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.

* 11 pages, 7 figures 
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Attack Prompt Generation for Red Teaming and Defending Large Language Models

Oct 19, 2023
Boyi Deng, Wenjie Wang, Fuli Feng, Yang Deng, Qifan Wang, Xiangnan He

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Large language models (LLMs) are susceptible to red teaming attacks, which can induce LLMs to generate harmful content. Previous research constructs attack prompts via manual or automatic methods, which have their own limitations on construction cost and quality. To address these issues, we propose an integrated approach that combines manual and automatic methods to economically generate high-quality attack prompts. Specifically, considering the impressive capabilities of newly emerged LLMs, we propose an attack framework to instruct LLMs to mimic human-generated prompts through in-context learning. Furthermore, we propose a defense framework that fine-tunes victim LLMs through iterative interactions with the attack framework to enhance their safety against red teaming attacks. Extensive experiments on different LLMs validate the effectiveness of our proposed attack and defense frameworks. Additionally, we release a series of attack prompts datasets named SAP with varying sizes, facilitating the safety evaluation and enhancement of more LLMs. Our code and dataset is available on .

* Accepted to EMNLP 2023 (Findings) 
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Understanding Contrastive Learning via Distributionally Robust Optimization

Oct 17, 2023
Junkang Wu, Jiawei Chen, Jiancan Wu, Wentao Shi, Xiang Wang, Xiangnan He

This study reveals the inherent tolerance of contrastive learning (CL) towards sampling bias, wherein negative samples may encompass similar semantics (\eg labels). However, existing theories fall short in providing explanations for this phenomenon. We bridge this research gap by analyzing CL through the lens of distributionally robust optimization (DRO), yielding several key insights: (1) CL essentially conducts DRO over the negative sampling distribution, thus enabling robust performance across a variety of potential distributions and demonstrating robustness to sampling bias; (2) The design of the temperature $\tau$ is not merely heuristic but acts as a Lagrange Coefficient, regulating the size of the potential distribution set; (3) A theoretical connection is established between DRO and mutual information, thus presenting fresh evidence for ``InfoNCE as an estimate of MI'' and a new estimation approach for $\phi$-divergence-based generalized mutual information. We also identify CL's potential shortcomings, including over-conservatism and sensitivity to outliers, and introduce a novel Adjusted InfoNCE loss (ADNCE) to mitigate these issues. It refines potential distribution, improving performance and accelerating convergence. Extensive experiments on various domains (image, sentence, and graphs) validate the effectiveness of the proposal. The code is available at \url{}.

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Text-to-Image Generation for Abstract Concepts

Sep 27, 2023
Jiayi Liao, Xu Chen, Qiang Fu, Lun Du, Xiangnan He, Xiang Wang, Shi Han, Dongmei Zhang

Recent years have witnessed the substantial progress of large-scale models across various domains, such as natural language processing and computer vision, facilitating the expression of concrete concepts. Unlike concrete concepts that are usually directly associated with physical objects, expressing abstract concepts through natural language requires considerable effort, which results from their intricate semantics and connotations. An alternative approach is to leverage images to convey rich visual information as a supplement. Nevertheless, existing Text-to-Image (T2I) models are primarily trained on concrete physical objects and tend to fail to visualize abstract concepts. Inspired by the three-layer artwork theory that identifies critical factors, intent, object and form during artistic creation, we propose a framework of Text-to-Image generation for Abstract Concepts (TIAC). The abstract concept is clarified into a clear intent with a detailed definition to avoid ambiguity. LLMs then transform it into semantic-related physical objects, and the concept-dependent form is retrieved from an LLM-extracted form pattern set. Information from these three aspects will be integrated to generate prompts for T2I models via LLM. Evaluation results from human assessments and our newly designed metric concept score demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework in creating images that can sufficiently express abstract concepts.

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A Content-Driven Micro-Video Recommendation Dataset at Scale

Sep 27, 2023
Yongxin Ni, Yu Cheng, Xiangyan Liu, Junchen Fu, Youhua Li, Xiangnan He, Yongfeng Zhang, Fajie Yuan

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Micro-videos have recently gained immense popularity, sparking critical research in micro-video recommendation with significant implications for the entertainment, advertising, and e-commerce industries. However, the lack of large-scale public micro-video datasets poses a major challenge for developing effective recommender systems. To address this challenge, we introduce a very large micro-video recommendation dataset, named "MicroLens", consisting of one billion user-item interaction behaviors, 34 million users, and one million micro-videos. This dataset also contains various raw modality information about videos, including titles, cover images, audio, and full-length videos. MicroLens serves as a benchmark for content-driven micro-video recommendation, enabling researchers to utilize various modalities of video information for recommendation, rather than relying solely on item IDs or off-the-shelf video features extracted from a pre-trained network. Our benchmarking of multiple recommender models and video encoders on MicroLens has yielded valuable insights into the performance of micro-video recommendation. We believe that this dataset will not only benefit the recommender system community but also promote the development of the video understanding field. Our datasets and code are available at

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Selective Volume Mixup for Video Action Recognition

Sep 18, 2023
Yi Tan, Zhaofan Qiu, Yanbin Hao, Ting Yao, Xiangnan He, Tao Mei

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The recent advances in Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) and Vision Transformers have convincingly demonstrated high learning capability for video action recognition on large datasets. Nevertheless, deep models often suffer from the overfitting effect on small-scale datasets with a limited number of training videos. A common solution is to exploit the existing image augmentation strategies for each frame individually including Mixup, Cutmix, and RandAugment, which are not particularly optimized for video data. In this paper, we propose a novel video augmentation strategy named Selective Volume Mixup (SV-Mix) to improve the generalization ability of deep models with limited training videos. SV-Mix devises a learnable selective module to choose the most informative volumes from two videos and mixes the volumes up to achieve a new training video. Technically, we propose two new modules, i.e., a spatial selective module to select the local patches for each spatial position, and a temporal selective module to mix the entire frames for each timestamp and maintain the spatial pattern. At each time, we randomly choose one of the two modules to expand the diversity of training samples. The selective modules are jointly optimized with the video action recognition framework to find the optimal augmentation strategy. We empirically demonstrate the merits of the SV-Mix augmentation on a wide range of video action recognition benchmarks and consistently boot the performances of both CNN-based and transformer-based models.

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RecAD: Towards A Unified Library for Recommender Attack and Defense

Sep 09, 2023
Changsheng Wang, Jianbai Ye, Wenjie Wang, Chongming Gao, Fuli Feng, Xiangnan He

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In recent years, recommender systems have become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, while they suffer from a high risk of being attacked due to the growing commercial and social values. Despite significant research progress in recommender attack and defense, there is a lack of a widely-recognized benchmarking standard in the field, leading to unfair performance comparison and limited credibility of experiments. To address this, we propose RecAD, a unified library aiming at establishing an open benchmark for recommender attack and defense. RecAD takes an initial step to set up a unified benchmarking pipeline for reproducible research by integrating diverse datasets, standard source codes, hyper-parameter settings, running logs, attack knowledge, attack budget, and evaluation results. The benchmark is designed to be comprehensive and sustainable, covering both attack, defense, and evaluation tasks, enabling more researchers to easily follow and contribute to this promising field. RecAD will drive more solid and reproducible research on recommender systems attack and defense, reduce the redundant efforts of researchers, and ultimately increase the credibility and practical value of recommender attack and defense. The project is released at

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