Grocery recommendation is an important recommendation use-case, which aims to predict which items a user might choose to buy in the future, based on their shopping history. However, existing methods only represent each user and item by single deterministic points in a low-dimensional continuous space. In addition, most of these methods are trained by maximizing the co-occurrence likelihood with a simple Skip-gram-based formulation, which limits the expressive ability of their embeddings and the resulting recommendation performance. In this paper, we propose the Variational Bayesian Context-Aware Representation (VBCAR) model for grocery recommendation, which is a novel variational Bayesian model that learns the user and item latent vectors by leveraging basket context information from past user-item interactions. We train our VBCAR model based on the Bayesian Skip-gram framework coupled with the amortized variational inference so that it can learn more expressive latent representations that integrate both the non-linearity and Bayesian behaviour. Experiments conducted on a large real-world grocery recommendation dataset show that our proposed VBCAR model can significantly outperform existing state-of-the-art grocery recommendation methods.
Debiased recommendation has recently attracted increasing attention from both industry and academic communities. Traditional models mostly rely on the inverse propensity score (IPS), which can be hard to estimate and may suffer from the high variance issue. To alleviate these problems, in this paper, we propose a novel debiased recommendation framework based on user feature balancing. The general idea is to introduce a projection function to adjust user feature distributions, such that the ideal unbiased learning objective can be upper bounded by a solvable objective purely based on the offline dataset. In the upper bound, the projected user distributions are expected to be equal given different items. From the causal inference perspective, this requirement aims to remove the causal relation from the user to the item, which enables us to achieve unbiased recommendation, bypassing the computation of IPS. In order to efficiently balance the user distributions upon each item pair, we propose three strategies, including clipping, sampling and adversarial learning to improve the training process. For more robust optimization, we deploy an explicit model to capture the potential latent confounders in recommendation systems. To the best of our knowledge, this paper is the first work on debiased recommendation based on confounder balancing. In the experiments, we compare our framework with many state-of-the-art methods based on synthetic, semi-synthetic and real-world datasets. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our model is effective in promoting the recommendation performance.
Personalized news recommendation methods are widely used in online news services. These methods usually recommend news based on the matching between news content and user interest inferred from historical behaviors. However, these methods usually have difficulties in making accurate recommendations to cold-start users, and tend to recommend similar news with those users have read. In general, popular news usually contain important information and can attract users with different interests. Besides, they are usually diverse in content and topic. Thus, in this paper we propose to incorporate news popularity information to alleviate the cold-start and diversity problems for personalized news recommendation. In our method, the ranking score for recommending a candidate news to a target user is the combination of a personalized matching score and a news popularity score. The former is used to capture the personalized user interest in news. The latter is used to measure time-aware popularity of candidate news, which is predicted based on news content, recency, and real-time CTR using a unified framework. Besides, we propose a popularity-aware user encoder to eliminate the popularity bias in user behaviors for accurate interest modeling. Experiments on two real-world datasets show our method can effectively improve the accuracy and diversity for news recommendation.
Item recommendation based on historical user-item interactions is of vital importance for web-based services. However, the data used to train a recommender system (RS) suffers from severe popularity bias. Interactions of a small fraction of popular (head) items account for almost the whole training data. Normal training methods from such biased data tend to repetitively generate recommendations from the head items, which further exacerbates the data bias and affects the exploration of potentially interesting items from niche (tail) items. In this paper, we explore the central theme of long-tail recommendation. Through an empirical study, we find that head items are very likely to be recommended due to the fact that the gradients coming from head items dominate the overall gradient update process, which further affects the optimization of tail items. To this end, we propose a general framework namely Item Cluster-Wise Multi-Objective Training (ICMT) for long-tail recommendation. Firstly, the disentangled representation learning is utilized to identify the popularity impact behind user-item interactions. Then item clusters are adaptively formulated according to the disentangled popularity representation. After that, we consider the learning over the whole training data as a weighted aggregation of multiple item cluster-wise objectives, which can be resolved through a Pareto-Efficient solver for a harmonious overall gradient direction. Besides, a contractive loss focusing on model robustness is derived as a regularization term. We instantiate ICMT with three state-of-the-art recommendation models and conduct experiments on three real-world datasets. %Through alleviating the popularity bias, Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed ICMT significantly improves the overall recommendation performance, especially on tail items.
Latent-factor models (LFM) based on collaborative filtering (CF), such as matrix factorization (MF) and deep CF methods, are widely used in modern recommender systems (RS) due to their excellent performance and recommendation accuracy. Notwithstanding their great success, in recent years, it has been shown that these methods are vulnerable to adversarial examples, i.e., subtle but non-random perturbations designed to force recommendation models to produce erroneous outputs. The main reason for this behavior is that user interaction data used for training of LFM can be contaminated by malicious activities or users' misoperation that can induce an unpredictable amount of natural noise and harm recommendation outcomes. On the other side, it has been shown that these systems, conceived originally to attack machine learning applications, can be successfully adopted to strengthen their robustness against attacks as well as to train more precise recommendation engines. In this respect, the goal of this survey is two-fold: (i) to present recent advances on AML-RS for the security of RS (i.e., attacking and defense recommendation models), (ii) to show another successful application of AML in generative adversarial networks (GANs), which use the core concept of learning in AML (i.e., the min-max game) for generative applications. In this survey, we provide an exhaustive literature review of 60 articles published in major RS and ML journals and conferences. This review serves as a reference for the RS community, working on the security of RS and recommendation models leveraging generative models to improve their quality.
Recommender systems are one of the most widely used services on several online platforms to suggest potential items to the end-users. These services often use different machine learning techniques for which fairness is a concerning factor, especially when the downstream services have the ability to cause social ramifications. Thus, focusing on the non-personalised (global) recommendations in news media platforms (e.g., top-k trending topics on Twitter, top-k news on a news platform, etc.), we discuss on two specific fairness concerns together (traditionally studied separately)---user fairness and organisational fairness. While user fairness captures the idea of representing the choices of all the individual users in the case of global recommendations, organisational fairness tries to ensure politically/ideologically balanced recommendation sets. This makes user fairness a user-side requirement and organisational fairness a platform-side requirement. For user fairness, we test with methods from social choice theory, i.e., various voting rules known to better represent user choices in their results. Even in our application of voting rules to the recommendation setup, we observe high user satisfaction scores. Now for organisational fairness, we propose a bias metric which measures the aggregate ideological bias of a recommended set of items (articles). Analysing the results obtained from voting rule-based recommendation, we find that while the well-known voting rules are better from the user side, they show high bias values and clearly not suitable for organisational requirements of the platforms. Thus, there is a need to build an encompassing mechanism by cohesively bridging ideas of user fairness and organisational fairness. In this abstract paper, we intend to frame the elementary ideas along with the clear motivation behind the requirement of such a mechanism.
Since the recent study (Krichene and Rendle 2020) done by Krichene and Rendle on the sampling-based top-k evaluation metric for recommendation, there has been a lot of debates on the validity of using sampling to evaluate recommendation algorithms. Though their work and the recent work (Li et al.2020) have proposed some basic approaches for mapping the sampling-based metrics to their global counterparts which rank the entire set of items, there is still a lack of understanding and consensus on how sampling should be used for recommendation evaluation. The proposed approaches either are rather uninformative (linking sampling to metric evaluation) or can only work on simple metrics, such as Recall/Precision (Krichene and Rendle 2020; Li et al. 2020). In this paper, we introduce a new research problem on learning the empirical rank distribution, and a new approach based on the estimated rank distribution, to estimate the top-k metrics. Since this question is closely related to the underlying mechanism of sampling for recommendation, tackling it can help better understand the power of sampling and can help resolve the questions of if and how should we use sampling for evaluating recommendation. We introduce two approaches based on MLE (MaximalLikelihood Estimation) and its weighted variants, and ME(Maximal Entropy) principals to recover the empirical rank distribution, and then utilize them for metrics estimation. The experimental results show the advantages of using the new approaches for evaluating recommendation algorithms based on top-k metrics.
Recent studies have shown that providing personalized explanations alongside recommendations increases trust and perceived quality. Furthermore, it gives users an opportunity to refine the recommendations by critiquing parts of the explanations. On one hand, current recommender systems model the recommendation, explanation, and critiquing objectives jointly, but this creates an inherent trade-off between their respective performance. On the other hand, although recent latent linear critiquing approaches are built upon an existing recommender system, they suffer from computational inefficiency at inference due to the objective optimized at each conversation's turn. We address these deficiencies with M&Ms-VAE, a novel variational autoencoder for recommendation and explanation that is based on multimodal modeling assumptions. We train the model under a weak supervision scheme to simulate both fully and partially observed variables. Then, we leverage the generalization ability of a trained M&Ms-VAE model to embed the user preference and the critique separately. Our work's most important innovation is our critiquing module, which is built upon and trained in a self-supervised manner with a simple ranking objective. Experiments on four real-world datasets demonstrate that among state-of-the-art models, our system is the first to dominate or match the performance in terms of recommendation, explanation, and multi-step critiquing. Moreover, M&Ms-VAE processes the critiques up to 25.6x faster than the best baselines. Finally, we show that our model infers coherent joint and cross generation, even under weak supervision, thanks to our multimodal-based modeling and training scheme.
We propose Style Conditioned Recommendations (SCR) and introduce style injection as a method to diversify recommendations. We use Conditional Variational Autoencoder (CVAE) architecture, where both the encoder and decoder are conditioned on a user profile learned from item content data. This allows us to apply style transfer methodologies to the task of recommendations, which we refer to as injection. To enable style injection, user profiles are learned to be interpretable such that they express users' propensities for specific predefined styles. These are learned via label-propagation from a dataset of item content, with limited labeled points. To perform injection, the condition on the encoder is learned while the condition on the decoder is selected per explicit feedback. Explicit feedback can be taken either from a user's response to a style or interest quiz, or from item ratings. In the absence of explicit feedback, the condition at the encoder is applied to the decoder. We show a 12% improvement on [email protected] over the traditional VAE based approach and an average 22% improvement on AUC across all classes for predicting user style profiles against our best performing baseline. After injecting styles we compare the user style profile to the style of the recommendations and show that injected styles have an average +133% increase in presence. Our results show that style injection is a powerful method to diversify recommendations while maintaining personal relevance. Our main contribution is an application of a semi-supervised approach that extends item labels to interpretable user profiles.