Collaborative Filtering (CF) is widely used in large-scale recommendation engines because of its efficiency, accuracy and scalability. However, in practice, the fact that recommendation engines based on CF require interactions between users and items before making recommendations, make it inappropriate for new items which haven't been exposed to the end users to interact with. This is known as the cold-start problem. In this paper we introduce a novel approach which employs deep learning to tackle this problem in any CF based recommendation engine. One of the most important features of the proposed technique is the fact that it can be applied on top of any existing CF based recommendation engine without changing the CF core. We successfully applied this technique to overcome the item cold-start problem in Careerbuilder's CF based recommendation engine. Our experiments show that the proposed technique is very efficient to resolve the cold-start problem while maintaining high accuracy of the CF recommendations.
Recommender systems are usually developed and evaluated on the historical user-item logs. However, most offline recommendation datasets are highly sparse and contain various biases, which hampers the evaluation of recommendation policies. Existing efforts aim to improve the data quality by collecting users' preferences on randomly selected items (e.g., Yahoo! and Coat). However, they still suffer from the high variance issue caused by the sparsely observed data. To fundamentally solve the problem, we present KuaiRec, a fully-observed dataset collected from the social video-sharing mobile App, Kuaishou. The feedback of 1,411 users on almost all of the 3,327 videos is explicitly observed. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first real-world fully-observed dataset with millions of user-item interactions in recommendation. To demonstrate the advantage of KuaiRec, we leverage it to explore the key questions in evaluating conversational recommender systems. The experimental results show that two factors in traditional partially-observed data -- the data density and the exposure bias -- greatly affect the evaluation results. This entails the significance of our fully-observed data in researching many directions in recommender systems, e.g., the unbiased recommendation, interactive/conversational recommendation, and evaluation. We release the dataset and the pipeline implementation for evaluation at https://chongminggao.github.io/KuaiRec/.
Personality-aware recommendation systems have been proven to achieve high accuracy compared to conventional recommendation systems. In addition to that, personality-aware recommendation systems could help alleviate cold start and data sparsity problems. Most of the existing works use Big-Five personality model to represent the user's personality, this is due to the popularity of Big-Five model in the literature of psychology. However, from personality computing perspective, the choice of the most suitable personality model that satisfy the requirements of the recommendation application and the recommended content type still needs further investigation. In this paper, we study and compare four personality-aware recommendation systems based on different personality models, namely Big-Five, Eysenck and HEXACO from the personality traits theory, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MPTI) from the personality types theory. Following that, we propose a hybrid personality model for recommendation that takes advantage of the personality traits models, as well as the personality types models. Through extensive experiments on recommendation dataset, we prove the efficiency of the proposed model, especially in cold start settings.
Recommender systems learn about user preferences over time, automatically finding things of similar interest. This reduces the burden of creating explicit queries. Recommender systems do, however, suffer from cold-start problems where no initial information is available early on upon which to base recommendations. Semantic knowledge structures, such as ontologies, can provide valuable domain knowledge and user information. However, acquiring such knowledge and keeping it up to date is not a trivial task and user interests are particularly difficult to acquire and maintain. This paper investigates the synergy between a web-based research paper recommender system and an ontology containing information automatically extracted from departmental databases available on the web. The ontology is used to address the recommender systems cold-start problem. The recommender system addresses the ontology's interest-acquisition problem. An empirical evaluation of this approach is conducted and the performance of the integrated systems measured.
In a news recommender system, a reader's preferences change over time. Some preferences drift quite abruptly (short-term preferences), while others change over a longer period of time (long-term preferences). Although the existing news recommender systems consider the reader's full history, they often ignore the dynamics in the reader's behavior. Thus, they cannot meet the demand of the news readers for their time-varying preferences. In addition, the state-of-the-art news recommendation models are often focused on providing accurate predictions, which can work well in traditional recommendation scenarios. However, in a news recommender system, diversity is essential, not only to keep news readers engaged, but also to play a key role in a democratic society. In this PhD dissertation, our goal is to build a news recommender system to address these two challenges. Our system should be able to: (i) accommodate the dynamics in reader behavior; and (ii) consider both accuracy and diversity in the design of the recommendation model. Our news recommender system can also work for unprofiled, anonymous and short-term readers, by leveraging the rich side information of the news items and by including the implicit feedback in our model. We evaluate our model with multiple evaluation measures (both accuracy and diversity-oriented metrics) to demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods.
Recommender systems have achieved great success in modeling user's preferences on items and predicting the next item the user would consume. Recently, there have been many efforts to utilize time information of users' interactions with items to capture inherent temporal patterns of user behaviors and offer timely recommendations at a given time. Existing studies regard the time information as a single type of feature and focus on how to associate it with user preferences on items. However, we argue they are insufficient for fully learning the time information because the temporal patterns of user preference are usually heterogeneous. A user's preference for a particular item may 1) increase periodically or 2) evolve over time under the influence of significant recent events, and each of these two kinds of temporal pattern appears with some unique characteristics. In this paper, we first define the unique characteristics of the two kinds of temporal pattern of user preference that should be considered in time-aware recommender systems. Then we propose a novel recommender system for timely recommendations, called TimelyRec, which jointly learns the heterogeneous temporal patterns of user preference considering all of the defined characteristics. In TimelyRec, a cascade of two encoders captures the temporal patterns of user preference using a proposed attention module for each encoder. Moreover, we introduce an evaluation scenario that evaluates the performance on predicting an interesting item and when to recommend the item simultaneously in top-K recommendation (i.e., item-timing recommendation). Our extensive experiments on a scenario for item recommendation and the proposed scenario for item-timing recommendation on real-world datasets demonstrate the superiority of TimelyRec and the proposed attention modules.
Research on fairness in machine learning has been recently extended to recommender systems. One of the factors that may impact fairness is bias disparity, the degree to which a group's preferences on various item categories fail to be reflected in the recommendations they receive. In some cases biases in the original data may be amplified or reversed by the underlying recommendation algorithm. In this paper, we explore how different recommendation algorithms reflect the tradeoff between ranking quality and bias disparity. Our experiments include neighborhood-based, model-based, and trust-aware recommendation algorithms.
Various attack methods against recommender systems have been proposed in the past years, and the security issues of recommender systems have drawn considerable attention. Traditional attacks attempt to make target items recommended to as many users as possible by poisoning the training data. Benifiting from the feature of protecting users' private data, federated recommendation can effectively defend such attacks. Therefore, quite a few works have devoted themselves to developing federated recommender systems. For proving current federated recommendation is still vulnerable, in this work we probe to design attack approaches targeting deep learning based recommender models in federated learning scenarios. Specifically, our attacks generate poisoned gradients for manipulated malicious users to upload based on two strategies (i.e., random approximation and hard user mining). Extensive experiments show that our well-designed attacks can effectively poison the target models, and the attack effectiveness sets the state-of-the-art.
Recommender system is an essential component of web services to engage users. Popular recommender systems model user preferences and item properties using a large amount of crowdsourced user-item interaction data, e.g., rating scores; then top-$N$ items that match the best with a user's preference are recommended to the user. In this work, we show that an attacker can launch a data poisoning attack to a recommender system to make recommendations as the attacker desires via injecting fake users with carefully crafted user-item interaction data. Specifically, an attacker can trick a recommender system to recommend a target item to as many normal users as possible. We focus on matrix factorization based recommender systems because they have been widely deployed in industry. Given the number of fake users the attacker can inject, we formulate the crafting of rating scores for the fake users as an optimization problem. However, this optimization problem is challenging to solve as it is a non-convex integer programming problem. To address the challenge, we develop several techniques to approximately solve the optimization problem. For instance, we leverage influence function to select a subset of normal users who are influential to the recommendations and solve our formulated optimization problem based on these influential users. Our results show that our attacks are effective and outperform existing methods.
Strategic recommendations (SR) refer to the problem where an intelligent agent observes the sequential behaviors and activities of users and decides when and how to interact with them to optimize some long-term objectives, both for the user and the business. These systems are in their infancy in the industry and in need of practical solutions to some fundamental research challenges. At Adobe research, we have been implementing such systems for various use-cases, including points of interest recommendations, tutorial recommendations, next step guidance in multi-media editing software, and ad recommendation for optimizing lifetime value. There are many research challenges when building these systems, such as modeling the sequential behavior of users, deciding when to intervene and offer recommendations without annoying the user, evaluating policies offline with high confidence, safe deployment, non-stationarity, building systems from passive data that do not contain past recommendations, resource constraint optimization in multi-user systems, scaling to large and dynamic actions spaces, and handling and incorporating human cognitive biases. In this paper we cover various use-cases and research challenges we solved to make these systems practical.