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"Recommendation": models, code, and papers

Persia: An Open, Hybrid System Scaling Deep Learning-based Recommenders up to 100 Trillion Parameters

Nov 23, 2021
Xiangru Lian, Binhang Yuan, Xuefeng Zhu, Yulong Wang, Yongjun He, Honghuan Wu, Lei Sun, Haodong Lyu, Chengjun Liu, Xing Dong, Yiqiao Liao, Mingnan Luo, Congfei Zhang, Jingru Xie, Haonan Li, Lei Chen, Renjie Huang, Jianying Lin, Chengchun Shu, Xuezhong Qiu, Zhishan Liu, Dongying Kong, Lei Yuan, Hai Yu, Sen Yang, Ce Zhang, Ji Liu

Deep learning based models have dominated the current landscape of production recommender systems. Furthermore, recent years have witnessed an exponential growth of the model scale--from Google's 2016 model with 1 billion parameters to the latest Facebook's model with 12 trillion parameters. Significant quality boost has come with each jump of the model capacity, which makes us believe the era of 100 trillion parameters is around the corner. However, the training of such models is challenging even within industrial scale data centers. This difficulty is inherited from the staggering heterogeneity of the training computation--the model's embedding layer could include more than 99.99% of the total model size, which is extremely memory-intensive; while the rest neural network is increasingly computation-intensive. To support the training of such huge models, an efficient distributed training system is in urgent need. In this paper, we resolve this challenge by careful co-design of both the optimization algorithm and the distributed system architecture. Specifically, in order to ensure both the training efficiency and the training accuracy, we design a novel hybrid training algorithm, where the embedding layer and the dense neural network are handled by different synchronization mechanisms; then we build a system called Persia (short for parallel recommendation training system with hybrid acceleration) to support this hybrid training algorithm. Both theoretical demonstration and empirical study up to 100 trillion parameters have conducted to justified the system design and implementation of Persia. We make Persia publicly available (at so that anyone would be able to easily train a recommender model at the scale of 100 trillion parameters.

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Incorporating User Micro-behaviors and Item Knowledge into Multi-task Learning for Session-based Recommendation

Jun 12, 2020
Wenjing Meng, Deqing Yang, Yanghua Xiao

Session-based recommendation (SR) has become an important and popular component of various e-commerce platforms, which aims to predict the next interacted item based on a given session. Most of existing SR models only focus on exploiting the consecutive items in a session interacted by a certain user, to capture the transition pattern among the items. Although some of them have been proven effective, the following two insights are often neglected. First, a user's micro-behaviors, such as the manner in which the user locates an item, the activities that the user commits on an item (e.g., reading comments, adding to cart), offer fine-grained and deep understanding of the user's preference. Second, the item attributes, also known as item knowledge, provide side information to model the transition pattern among interacted items and alleviate the data sparsity problem. These insights motivate us to propose a novel SR model MKM-SR in this paper, which incorporates user Micro-behaviors and item Knowledge into Multi-task learning for Session-based Recommendation. Specifically, a given session is modeled on micro-behavior level in MKM-SR, i.e., with a sequence of item-operation pairs rather than a sequence of items, to capture the transition pattern in the session sufficiently. Furthermore, we propose a multi-task learning paradigm to involve learning knowledge embeddings which plays a role as an auxiliary task to promote the major task of SR. It enables our model to obtain better session representations, resulting in more precise SR recommendation results. The extensive evaluations on two benchmark datasets demonstrate MKM-SR's superiority over the state-of-the-art SR models, justifying the strategy of incorporating knowledge learning.

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Can we aggregate human intelligence? an approach for human centric aggregation using ordered weighted averaging operators

May 01, 2021
Shahab Saquib Sohail, Jamshed Siddiqui, Rashid Ali, S. Hamid Hasan, M. Afshar Alam

The primary objective of this paper is to present an approach for recommender systems that can assimilate ranking to the voters or rankers so that recommendation can be made by giving priority to experts suggestion over usual recommendation. To accomplish this, we have incorporated the concept of human-centric aggregation via Ordered Weighted Aggregation (OWA). Here, we are advocating ranked recommendation where rankers are assigned weights according to their place in the ranking. Further, the recommendation process which is presented here for the recommendation of books to university students exploits linguistic data summaries and Ordered Weighted Aggregation (OWA) technique. In the suggested approach, the weights are assigned in a way that it associates higher weights to best ranked university. The approach has been evaluated over eight different parameters. The superiority of the proposed approach is evident from the evaluation results. We claim that proposed scheme saves storage spaces required in traditional recommender systems as well as it does not need users prior preferences and hence produce a solution for cold start problem. This envisaged that the proposed scheme can be very useful in decision making problems, especially for recommender systems. In addition, it emphasizes on how human-centric aggregation can be useful in recommendation researches, and also it gives a new direction about how various human specific tasks can be numerically aggregated.

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Toward Pareto Efficient Fairness-Utility Trade-off inRecommendation through Reinforcement Learning

Jan 01, 2022
Yingqiang Ge, Xiaoting Zhao, Lucia Yu, Saurabh Paul, Diane Hu, Chu-Cheng Hsieh, Yongfeng Zhang

The issue of fairness in recommendation is becoming increasingly essential as Recommender Systems touch and influence more and more people in their daily lives. In fairness-aware recommendation, most of the existing algorithmic approaches mainly aim at solving a constrained optimization problem by imposing a constraint on the level of fairness while optimizing the main recommendation objective, e.g., CTR. While this alleviates the impact of unfair recommendations, the expected return of an approach may significantly compromise the recommendation accuracy due to the inherent trade-off between fairness and utility. This motivates us to deal with these conflicting objectives and explore the optimal trade-off between them in recommendation. One conspicuous approach is to seek a Pareto efficient solution to guarantee optimal compromises between utility and fairness. Moreover, considering the needs of real-world e-commerce platforms, it would be more desirable if we can generalize the whole Pareto Frontier, so that the decision-makers can specify any preference of one objective over another based on their current business needs. Therefore, in this work, we propose a fairness-aware recommendation framework using multi-objective reinforcement learning, called MoFIR, which is able to learn a single parametric representation for optimal recommendation policies over the space of all possible preferences. Specially, we modify traditional DDPG by introducing conditioned network into it, which conditions the networks directly on these preferences and outputs Q-value-vectors. Experiments on several real-world recommendation datasets verify the superiority of our framework on both fairness metrics and recommendation measures when compared with all other baselines. We also extract the approximate Pareto Frontier on real-world datasets generated by MoFIR and compare to state-of-the-art fairness methods.

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CnGAN: Generative Adversarial Networks for Cross-network user preference generation for non-overlapped users

Aug 25, 2020
Dilruk Perera, Roger Zimmermann

A major drawback of cross-network recommender solutions is that they can only be applied to users that are overlapped across networks. Thus, the non-overlapped users, which form the majority of users are ignored. As a solution, we propose CnGAN, a novel multi-task learning based, encoder-GAN-recommender architecture. The proposed model synthetically generates source network user preferences for non-overlapped users by learning the mapping from target to source network preference manifolds. The resultant user preferences are used in a Siamese network based neural recommender architecture. Furthermore, we propose a novel user based pairwise loss function for recommendations using implicit interactions to better guide the generation process in the multi-task learning environment.We illustrate our solution by generating user preferences on the Twitter source network for recommendations on the YouTube target network. Extensive experiments show that the generated preferences can be used to improve recommendations for non-overlapped users. The resultant recommendations achieve superior performance compared to the state-of-the-art cross-network recommender solutions in terms of accuracy, novelty and diversity.

* The World Wide Web Conference, 2019 (WWW'19) 

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Achieving User-Side Fairness in Contextual Bandits

Oct 22, 2020
Wen Huang, Kevin Labille, Xintao Wu, Dongwon Lee, Neil Heffernan

Personalized recommendation based on multi-arm bandit (MAB) algorithms has shown to lead to high utility and efficiency as it can dynamically adapt the recommendation strategy based on feedback. However, unfairness could incur in personalized recommendation. In this paper, we study how to achieve user-side fairness in personalized recommendation. We formulate our fair personalized recommendation as a modified contextual bandit and focus on achieving fairness on the individual whom is being recommended an item as opposed to achieving fairness on the items that are being recommended. We introduce and define a metric that captures the fairness in terms of rewards received for both the privileged and protected groups. We develop a fair contextual bandit algorithm, Fair-LinUCB, that improves upon the traditional LinUCB algorithm to achieve group-level fairness of users. Our algorithm detects and monitors unfairness while it learns to recommend personalized videos to students to achieve high efficiency. We provide a theoretical regret analysis and show that our algorithm has a slightly higher regret bound than LinUCB. We conduct numerous experimental evaluations to compare the performances of our fair contextual bandit to that of LinUCB and show that our approach achieves group-level fairness while maintaining a high utility.

* 12 pages 

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The Engagement-Diversity Connection: Evidence from a Field Experiment on Spotify

Mar 17, 2020
David Holtz, Benjamin Carterette, Praveen Chandar, Zahra Nazari, Henriette Cramer, Sinan Aral

It remains unknown whether personalized recommendations increase or decrease the diversity of content people consume. We present results from a randomized field experiment on Spotify testing the effect of personalized recommendations on consumption diversity. In the experiment, both control and treatment users were given podcast recommendations, with the sole aim of increasing podcast consumption. Treatment users' recommendations were personalized based on their music listening history, whereas control users were recommended popular podcasts among users in their demographic group. We find that, on average, the treatment increased podcast streams by 28.90%. However, the treatment also decreased the average individual-level diversity of podcast streams by 11.51%, and increased the aggregate diversity of podcast streams by 5.96%, indicating that personalized recommendations have the potential to create patterns of consumption that are homogenous within and diverse across users, a pattern reflecting Balkanization. Our results provide evidence of an "engagement-diversity trade-off" when recommendations are optimized solely to drive consumption: while personalized recommendations increase user engagement, they also affect the diversity of consumed content. This shift in consumption diversity can affect user retention and lifetime value, and impact the optimal strategy for content producers. We also observe evidence that our treatment affected streams from sections of Spotify's app not directly affected by the experiment, suggesting that exposure to personalized recommendations can affect the content that users consume organically. We believe these findings highlight the need for academics and practitioners to continue investing in personalization methods that explicitly take into account the diversity of content recommended.

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Click-Through Rate Prediction Using Graph Neural Networks and Online Learning

May 09, 2021
Farzaneh Rajabi, Jack Siyuan He

Recommendation systems have been extensively studied by many literature in the past and are ubiquitous in online advertisement, shopping industry/e-commerce, query suggestions in search engines, and friend recommendation in social networks. Moreover, restaurant/music/product/movie/news/app recommendations are only a few of the applications of a recommender system. A small percent improvement on the CTR prediction accuracy has been mentioned to add millions of dollars of revenue to the advertisement industry. Click-Through-Rate (CTR) prediction is a special version of recommender system in which the goal is predicting whether or not a user is going to click on a recommended item. A content-based recommendation approach takes into account the past history of the user's behavior, i.e. the recommended products and the users reaction to them. So, a personalized model that recommends the right item to the right user at the right time is the key to building such a model. On the other hand, the so-called collaborative filtering approach incorporates the click history of the users who are very similar to a particular user, thereby helping the recommender to come up with a more confident prediction for that particular user by leveraging the wider knowledge of users who share their taste in a connected network of users. In this project, we are interested in building a CTR predictor using Graph Neural Networks complemented by an online learning algorithm that models such dynamic interactions. By framing the problem as a binary classification task, we have evaluated this system both on the offline models (GNN, Deep Factorization Machines) with test-AUC of 0.7417 and on the online learning model with test-AUC of 0.7585 using a sub-sampled version of Criteo public dataset consisting of 10,000 data points.

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Personalised novel and explainable matrix factorisation

Jul 25, 2019
Ludovik Coba, Panagiotis Symeonidis, Markus Zanker

Recommendation systems personalise suggestions to individuals to help them in their decision making and exploration tasks. In the ideal case, these recommendations, besides of being accurate, should also be novel and explainable. However, up to now most platforms fail to provide both, novel recommendations that advance users' exploration along with explanations to make their reasoning more transparent to them. For instance, a well-known recommendation algorithm, such as matrix factorisation (MF), optimises only the accuracy criterion, while disregarding other quality criteria such as the explainability or the novelty, of recommended items. In this paper, to the best of our knowledge, we propose a new model, denoted as NEMF, that allows to trade-off the MF performance with respect to the criteria of novelty and explainability, while only minimally compromising on accuracy. In addition, we recommend a new explainability metric based on nDCG, which distinguishes a more explainable item from a less explainable item. An initial user study indicates how users perceive the different attributes of these "user" style explanations and our extensive experimental results demonstrate that we attain high accuracy by recommending also novel and explainable items.

* Data & Knowledge Engineering Volume 122, July 2019, Pages 142-158 

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The Sample Complexity of Online One-Class Collaborative Filtering

May 31, 2017
Reinhard Heckel, Kannan Ramchandran

We consider the online one-class collaborative filtering (CF) problem that consists of recommending items to users over time in an online fashion based on positive ratings only. This problem arises when users respond only occasionally to a recommendation with a positive rating, and never with a negative one. We study the impact of the probability of a user responding to a recommendation, p_f, on the sample complexity, i.e., the number of ratings required to make `good' recommendations, and ask whether receiving positive and negative ratings, instead of positive ratings only, improves the sample complexity. Both questions arise in the design of recommender systems. We introduce a simple probabilistic user model, and analyze the performance of an online user-based CF algorithm. We prove that after an initial cold start phase, where recommendations are invested in exploring the user's preferences, this algorithm makes---up to a fraction of the recommendations required for updating the user's preferences---perfect recommendations. The number of ratings required for the cold start phase is nearly proportional to 1/p_f, and that for updating the user's preferences is essentially independent of p_f. As a consequence we find that, receiving positive and negative ratings instead of only positive ones improves the number of ratings required for initial exploration by a factor of 1/p_f, which can be significant.

* ICML 2017 

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