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"Recommendation": models, code, and papers

How Useful are Reviews for Recommendation? A Critical Review and Potential Improvements

May 25, 2020
Noveen Sachdeva, Julian McAuley

We investigate a growing body of work that seeks to improve recommender systems through the use of review text. Generally, these papers argue that since reviews 'explain' users' opinions, they ought to be useful to infer the underlying dimensions that predict ratings or purchases. Schemes to incorporate reviews range from simple regularizers to neural network approaches. Our initial findings reveal several discrepancies in reported results, partly due to (e.g.) copying results across papers despite changes in experimental settings or data pre-processing. First, we attempt a comprehensive analysis to resolve these ambiguities. Further investigation calls for discussion on a much larger problem about the "importance" of user reviews for recommendation. Through a wide range of experiments, we observe several cases where state-of-the-art methods fail to outperform existing baselines, especially as we deviate from a few narrowly-defined settings where reviews are useful. We conclude by providing hypotheses for our observations, that seek to characterize under what conditions reviews are likely to be helpful. Through this work, we aim to evaluate the direction in which the field is progressing and encourage robust empirical evaluation.

* 4 pages, 3 figures. Accepted for publication at SIGIR '20 

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Matrix embedding method in match for session-based recommendation

Aug 27, 2019
Qizhi Zhang, Yi Lin, Kangle Wu, Yongliang Li, Anxiang Zeng

Session based model is widely used in recommend system. It use the user click sequence as input of a Recurrent Neural Network (RNN), and get the output of the RNN network as the vector embedding of the session, and use the inner product of the vector embedding of session and the vector embedding of the next item as the score that is the metric of the interest to the next item. This method can be used for the "match" stage for the recommendation system whose item number is very big by using some index method like KD-Tree or Ball-Tree and etc.. But this method repudiate the variousness of the interest of user in a session. We generated the model to modify the vector embedding of session to a symmetric matrix embedding, that is equivalent to a quadratic form on the vector space of items. The score is builded as the value of the vector embedding of next item under the quadratic form. The eigenvectors of the symmetric matrix embedding corresponding to the positive eigenvalues are conjectured to represent the interests of user in the session. This method can be used for the "match" stage also. The experiments show that this method is better than the method of vector embedding.

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Decoupled Side Information Fusion for Sequential Recommendation

Apr 23, 2022
Yueqi Xie, Peilin Zhou, Sunghun Kim

Side information fusion for sequential recommendation (SR) aims to effectively leverage various side information to enhance the performance of next-item prediction. Most state-of-the-art methods build on self-attention networks and focus on exploring various solutions to integrate the item embedding and side information embeddings before the attention layer. However, our analysis shows that the early integration of various types of embeddings limits the expressiveness of attention matrices due to a rank bottleneck and constrains the flexibility of gradients. Also, it involves mixed correlations among the different heterogeneous information resources, which brings extra disturbance to attention calculation. Motivated by this, we propose Decoupled Side Information Fusion for Sequential Recommendation (DIF-SR), which moves the side information from the input to the attention layer and decouples the attention calculation of various side information and item representation. We theoretically and empirically show that the proposed solution allows higher-rank attention matrices and flexible gradients to enhance the modeling capacity of side information fusion. Also, auxiliary attribute predictors are proposed to further activate the beneficial interaction between side information and item representation learning. Extensive experiments on four real-world datasets demonstrate that our proposed solution stably outperforms state-of-the-art SR models. Further studies show that our proposed solution can be readily incorporated into current attention-based SR models and significantly boost performance. Our source code is available at

* Accepted to SIGIR 2022 

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Scalable Realistic Recommendation Datasets through Fractal Expansions

Jan 23, 2019
Francois Belletti, Karthik Lakshmanan, Walid Krichene, Yi-Fan Chen, John Anderson

Recommender System research suffers currently from a disconnect between the size of academic data sets and the scale of industrial production systems. In order to bridge that gap we propose to generate more massive user/item interaction data sets by expanding pre-existing public data sets. User/item incidence matrices record interactions between users and items on a given platform as a large sparse matrix whose rows correspond to users and whose columns correspond to items. Our technique expands such matrices to larger numbers of rows (users), columns (items) and non zero values (interactions) while preserving key higher order statistical properties. We adapt the Kronecker Graph Theory to user/item incidence matrices and show that the corresponding fractal expansions preserve the fat-tailed distributions of user engagements, item popularity and singular value spectra of user/item interaction matrices. Preserving such properties is key to building large realistic synthetic data sets which in turn can be employed reliably to benchmark Recommender Systems and the systems employed to train them. We provide algorithms to produce such expansions and apply them to the MovieLens 20 million data set comprising 20 million ratings of 27K movies by 138K users. The resulting expanded data set has 10 billion ratings, 2 million items and 864K users in its smaller version and can be scaled up or down. A larger version features 655 billion ratings, 7 million items and 17 million users.

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Realistic risk-mitigating recommendations via inverse classification

Nov 13, 2016
Michael T. Lash, W. Nick Street

Inverse classification, the process of making meaningful perturbations to a test point such that it is more likely to have a desired classification, has previously been addressed using data from a single static point in time. Such an approach yields inflated probability estimates, stemming from an implicitly made assumption that recommendations are implemented instantaneously. We propose using longitudinal data to alleviate such issues in two ways. First, we use past outcome probabilities as features in the present. Use of such past probabilities ties historical behavior to the present, allowing for more information to be taken into account when making initial probability estimates and subsequently performing inverse classification. Secondly, following inverse classification application, optimized instances' unchangeable features (e.g.,~age) are updated using values from the next longitudinal time period. Optimized test instance probabilities are then reassessed. Updating the unchangeable features in this manner reflects the notion that improvements in outcome likelihood, which result from following the inverse classification recommendations, do not materialize instantaneously. As our experiments demonstrate, more realistic estimates of probability can be obtained by factoring in such considerations.

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Multimodal Fusion Based Attentive Networks for Sequential Music Recommendation

Oct 03, 2021
Kunal Vaswani, Yudhik Agrawal, Vinoo Alluri

Music has the power to evoke intense emotional experiences and regulate the mood of an individual. With the advent of online streaming services, research in music recommendation services has seen tremendous progress. Modern methods leveraging the listening histories of users for session-based song recommendations have overlooked the significance of features extracted from lyrics and acoustic content. We address the task of song prediction through multiple modalities, including tags, lyrics, and acoustic content. In this paper, we propose a novel deep learning approach by refining Attentive Neural Networks using representations derived via a Transformer model for lyrics and Variational Autoencoder for acoustic features. Our model achieves significant improvement in performance over existing state-of-the-art models using lyrical and acoustic features alone. Furthermore, we conduct a study to investigate the impact of users' psychological health on our model's performance.

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Privileged Features Distillation for E-Commerce Recommendations

Jul 11, 2019
Chen Xu, Quan Li, Junfeng Ge, Jinyang Gao, Xiaoyong Yang, Changhua Pei, Hanxiao Sun, Wenwu Ou

Features play an important role in most prediction tasks of e-commerce recommendations. To guarantee the consistence of off-line training and on-line serving, we usually utilize the same features that are both available. However, the consistence in turn neglects some discriminative features. For example, when estimating the conversion rate (CVR), i.e., the probability that a user would purchase the item after she has clicked it, features like dwell time on the item detailed page can be very informative. However, CVR prediction should be conducted for on-line ranking before the click happens. Thus we cannot get such post-event features during serving. Here we define the features that are discriminative but only available during training as the privileged features. Inspired by the distillation techniques which bridge the gap between training and inference, in this work, we propose privileged features distillation (PFD). We train two models, i.e., a student model that is the same as the original one and a teacher model that additionally utilizes the privileged features. Knowledge distilled from the more accurate teacher is transferred to the student, which helps to improve its prediction accuracy. During serving, only the student part is extracted. To our knowledge, this is the first work to fully exploit the potential of such features. To validate the effectiveness of PFD, we conduct experiments on two fundamental prediction tasks in Taobao recommendations, i.e., click-through rate (CTR) at coarse-grained ranking and CVR at fine-grained ranking. By distilling the interacted features that are prohibited during serving for CTR and the post-event features for CVR, we achieve significant improvements over both of the strong baselines. Besides, by addressing several issues of training PFD, we obtain comparable training speed as the baselines without any distillation.

* 8 pages 

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Graph Convolution Machine for Context-aware Recommender System

Jan 30, 2020
Jiancan Wu, Xiangnan He, Xiang Wang, Qifan Wang, Weijian Chen, Jianxun Lian, Xing Xie, Yongdong Zhang

The latest advance in recommendation shows that better user and item representations can be learned via performing graph convolutions on the user-item interaction graph. However, such finding is mostly restricted to the collaborative filtering (CF) scenario, where the interaction contexts are not available. In this work, we extend the advantages of graph convolutions to context-aware recommender system (CARS, which represents a generic type of models that can handle various side information). We propose Graph Convolution Machine (GCM), an end-to-end framework that consists of three components: an encoder, graph convolution (GC) layers, and a decoder. The encoder projects users, items, and contexts into embedding vectors, which are passed to the GC layers that refine user and item embeddings with context-aware graph convolutions on user-item graph. The decoder digests the refined embeddings to output the prediction score by considering the interactions among user, item, and context embeddings. We conduct experiments on three real-world datasets from Yelp, validating the effectiveness of GCM and the benefits of performing graph convolutions for CARS.

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Regularizing Matrix Factorization with User and Item Embeddings for Recommendation

Aug 31, 2018
Thanh Tran, Kyumin Lee, Yiming Liao, Dongwon Lee

Following recent successes in exploiting both latent factor and word embedding models in recommendation, we propose a novel Regularized Multi-Embedding (RME) based recommendation model that simultaneously encapsulates the following ideas via decomposition: (1) which items a user likes, (2) which two users co-like the same items, (3) which two items users often co-liked, and (4) which two items users often co-disliked. In experimental validation, the RME outperforms competing state-of-the-art models in both explicit and implicit feedback datasets, significantly improving [email protected] by 5.9~7.0%, [email protected] by 4.3~5.6%, and [email protected] by 7.9~8.9%. In addition, under the cold-start scenario for users with the lowest number of interactions, against the competing models, the RME outperforms [email protected] by 20.2% and 29.4% in MovieLens-10M and MovieLens-20M datasets, respectively. Our datasets and source code are available at:

* CIKM 2018 
* CIKM 2018 

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An Educational System for Personalized Teacher Recommendation in K-12 Online Classrooms

Jul 15, 2021
Jiahao Chen, Hang Li, Wenbiao Ding, Zitao Liu

In this paper, we propose a simple yet effective solution to build practical teacher recommender systems for online one-on-one classes. Our system consists of (1) a pseudo matching score module that provides reliable training labels; (2) a ranking model that scores every candidate teacher; (3) a novelty boosting module that gives additional opportunities to new teachers; and (4) a diversity metric that guardrails the recommended results to reduce the chance of collision. Offline experimental results show that our approach outperforms a wide range of baselines. Furthermore, we show that our approach is able to reduce the number of student-teacher matching attempts from 7.22 to 3.09 in a five-month observation on a third-party online education platform.

* AIED'21: The 22nd International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, 2021 

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