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"Recommendation": models, code, and papers

Unbiased Learning for the Causal Effect of Recommendation

Aug 11, 2020
Masahiro Sato, Sho Takemori, Janmajay Singh, Tomoko Ohkuma

Increasing users' positive interactions, such as purchases or clicks, is an important objective of recommender systems. Recommenders typically aim to select items that users will interact with. If the recommended items are purchased, an increase in sales is expected. However, the items could have been purchased even without recommendation. Thus, we want to recommend items that results in purchases caused by recommendation. This can be formulated as a ranking problem in terms of the causal effect. Despite its importance, this problem has not been well explored in the related research. It is challenging because the ground truth of causal effect is unobservable, and estimating the causal effect is prone to the bias arising from currently deployed recommenders. This paper proposes an unbiased learning framework for the causal effect of recommendation. Based on the inverse propensity scoring technique, the proposed framework first constructs unbiased estimators for ranking metrics. Then, it conducts empirical risk minimization on the estimators with propensity capping, which reduces variance under finite training samples. Based on the framework, we develop an unbiased learning method for the causal effect extension of a ranking metric. We theoretically analyze the unbiasedness of the proposed method and empirically demonstrate that the proposed method outperforms other biased learning methods in various settings.

* accepted at RecSys 2020 

A Differentiable Ranking Metric Using Relaxed Sorting Opeartion for Top-K Recommender Systems

Sep 03, 2020
Hyunsung Lee, Yeongjae Jang, Jaekwang Kim, Honguk Woo

A recommender system generates personalized recommendations for a user by computing the preference score of items, sorting the items according to the score, and filtering the top-Kitemswith high scores. While sorting and ranking items are integral for this recommendation procedure,it is nontrivial to incorporate them in the process of end-to-end model training since sorting is non-differentiable and hard to optimize with gradient-based updates. This incurs the inconsistency issue between the existing learning objectives and ranking-based evaluation metrics of recommendation models. In this work, we present DRM (differentiable ranking metric) that mitigates the inconsistency and improves recommendation performance, by employing the differentiable relaxation of ranking-based evaluation metrics. Via experiments with several real-world datasets, we demonstrate that the joint learning of the DRM cost function upon existing factor based recommendation models significantly improves the quality of recommendations, in comparison with other state-of-the-art recommendation methods.

* 12 pages, 3 figures 

Reinforced Path Reasoning for Counterfactual Explainable Recommendation

Jul 14, 2022
Xiangmeng Wang, Qian Li, Dianer Yu, Guandong Xu

Counterfactual explanations interpret the recommendation mechanism via exploring how minimal alterations on items or users affect the recommendation decisions. Existing counterfactual explainable approaches face huge search space and their explanations are either action-based (e.g., user click) or aspect-based (i.e., item description). We believe item attribute-based explanations are more intuitive and persuadable for users since they explain by fine-grained item demographic features (e.g., brand). Moreover, counterfactual explanation could enhance recommendations by filtering out negative items. In this work, we propose a novel Counterfactual Explainable Recommendation (CERec) to generate item attribute-based counterfactual explanations meanwhile to boost recommendation performance. Our CERec optimizes an explanation policy upon uniformly searching candidate counterfactuals within a reinforcement learning environment. We reduce the huge search space with an adaptive path sampler by using rich context information of a given knowledge graph. We also deploy the explanation policy to a recommendation model to enhance the recommendation. Extensive explainability and recommendation evaluations demonstrate CERec's ability to provide explanations consistent with user preferences and maintain improved recommendations. We release our code at


Providing Explanations for Recommendations in Reciprocal Environments

Jul 03, 2018
Akiva Kleinerman, Ariel Rosenfeld, Sarit Kraus

Automated platforms which support users in finding a mutually beneficial match, such as online dating and job recruitment sites, are becoming increasingly popular. These platforms often include recommender systems that assist users in finding a suitable match. While recommender systems which provide explanations for their recommendations have shown many benefits, explanation methods have yet to be adapted and tested in recommending suitable matches. In this paper, we introduce and extensively evaluate the use of "reciprocal explanations" -- explanations which provide reasoning as to why both parties are expected to benefit from the match. Through an extensive empirical evaluation, in both simulated and real-world dating platforms with 287 human participants, we find that when the acceptance of a recommendation involves a significant cost (e.g., monetary or emotional), reciprocal explanations outperform standard explanation methods which consider the recommendation receiver alone. However, contrary to what one may expect, when the cost of accepting a recommendation is negligible, reciprocal explanations are shown to be less effective than the traditional explanation methods.


BPRS: Belief Propagation Based Iterative Recommender System

Sep 24, 2012
Erman Ayday, Arash Einolghozati, Faramarz Fekri

In this paper we introduce the first application of the Belief Propagation (BP) algorithm in the design of recommender systems. We formulate the recommendation problem as an inference problem and aim to compute the marginal probability distributions of the variables which represent the ratings to be predicted. However, computing these marginal probability functions is computationally prohibitive for large-scale systems. Therefore, we utilize the BP algorithm to efficiently compute these functions. Recommendations for each active user are then iteratively computed by probabilistic message passing. As opposed to the previous recommender algorithms, BPRS does not require solving the recommendation problem for all the users if it wishes to update the recommendations for only a single active. Further, BPRS computes the recommendations for each user with linear complexity and without requiring a training period. Via computer simulations (using the 100K MovieLens dataset), we verify that BPRS iteratively reduces the error in the predicted ratings of the users until it converges. Finally, we confirm that BPRS is comparable to the state of art methods such as Correlation-based neighborhood model (CorNgbr) and Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) in terms of rating and precision accuracy. Therefore, we believe that the BP-based recommendation algorithm is a new promising approach which offers a significant advantage on scalability while providing competitive accuracy for the recommender systems.


Extraction and Analysis of Clinically Important Follow-up Recommendations in a Large Radiology Dataset

May 14, 2019
Wilson Lau, Thomas H Payne, Ozlem Uzuner, Meliha Yetisgen

Communication of follow-up recommendations when abnormalities are identified on imaging studies is prone to error. In this paper, we present a natural language processing approach based on deep learning to automatically identify clinically important recommendations in radiology reports. Our approach first identifies the recommendation sentences and then extracts reason, test, and time frame of the identified recommendations. To train our extraction models, we created a corpus of 567 radiology reports annotated for recommendation information. Our extraction models achieved 0.92 f-score for recommendation sentence, 0.65 f-score for reason, 0.73 f-score for test, and 0.84 f-score for time frame. We applied the extraction models to a set of over 3.3 million radiology reports and analyzed the adherence of follow-up recommendations.

* Under Review at American Medical Informatics Association Fall Symposium'2019 

Recommender systems based on graph embedding techniques: A comprehensive review

Sep 20, 2021
Yue Deng

Recommender systems, a pivotal tool to alleviate the information overload problem, aim to predict user's preferred items from millions of candidates by analyzing observed user-item relations. As for tackling the sparsity and cold start problems encountered by recommender systems, uncovering hidden (indirect) user-item relations by employing side information and knowledge to enrich observed information for the recommendation has been proven promising recently; and its performance is largely determined by the scalability of recommendation models in the face of the high complexity and large scale of side information and knowledge. Making great strides towards efficiently utilizing complex and large-scale data, research into graph embedding techniques is a major topic. Equipping recommender systems with graph embedding techniques contributes to outperforming the conventional recommendation implementing directly based on graph topology analysis and has been widely studied these years. This article systematically retrospects graph embedding-based recommendation from embedding techniques for bipartite graphs, general graphs, and knowledge graphs, and proposes a general design pipeline of that. In addition, comparing several representative graph embedding-based recommendation models with the most common-used conventional recommendation models, on simulations, manifests that the conventional models overall outperform the graph embedding-based ones in predicting implicit user-item interactions, revealing the relative weakness of graph embedding-based recommendation in these tasks. To foster future research, this article proposes constructive suggestions on making a trade-off between graph embedding-based recommendation and the conventional recommendation in different tasks as well as some open questions.


Empowering News Recommendation with Pre-trained Language Models

Apr 15, 2021
Chuhan Wu, Fangzhao Wu, Tao Qi, Yongfeng Huang

Personalized news recommendation is an essential technique for online news services. News articles usually contain rich textual content, and accurate news modeling is important for personalized news recommendation. Existing news recommendation methods mainly model news texts based on traditional text modeling methods, which is not optimal for mining the deep semantic information in news texts. Pre-trained language models (PLMs) are powerful for natural language understanding, which has the potential for better news modeling. However, there is no public report that show PLMs have been applied to news recommendation. In this paper, we report our work on exploiting pre-trained language models to empower news recommendation. Offline experimental results on both monolingual and multilingual news recommendation datasets show that leveraging PLMs for news modeling can effectively improve the performance of news recommendation. Our PLM-empowered news recommendation models have been deployed to the Microsoft News platform, and achieved significant gains in terms of both click and pageview in both English-speaking and global markets.

* To appear in SIGIR 2021 

Session-based Recommendations with Recurrent Neural Networks

Mar 29, 2016
Balázs Hidasi, Alexandros Karatzoglou, Linas Baltrunas, Domonkos Tikk

We apply recurrent neural networks (RNN) on a new domain, namely recommender systems. Real-life recommender systems often face the problem of having to base recommendations only on short session-based data (e.g. a small sportsware website) instead of long user histories (as in the case of Netflix). In this situation the frequently praised matrix factorization approaches are not accurate. This problem is usually overcome in practice by resorting to item-to-item recommendations, i.e. recommending similar items. We argue that by modeling the whole session, more accurate recommendations can be provided. We therefore propose an RNN-based approach for session-based recommendations. Our approach also considers practical aspects of the task and introduces several modifications to classic RNNs such as a ranking loss function that make it more viable for this specific problem. Experimental results on two data-sets show marked improvements over widely used approaches.

* Camera ready version (17th February, 2016) Affiliation update (29th March, 2016) 

Hybrid Recommender Systems: A Systematic Literature Review

Jan 12, 2019
Erion Çano, Maurizio Morisio

Recommender systems are software tools used to generate and provide suggestions for items and other entities to the users by exploiting various strategies. Hybrid recommender systems combine two or more recommendation strategies in different ways to benefit from their complementary advantages. This systematic literature review presents the state of the art in hybrid recommender systems of the last decade. It is the first quantitative review work completely focused in hybrid recommenders. We address the most relevant problems considered and present the associated data mining and recommendation techniques used to overcome them. We also explore the hybridization classes each hybrid recommender belongs to, the application domains, the evaluation process and proposed future research directions. Based on our findings, most of the studies combine collaborative filtering with another technique often in a weighted way. Also cold-start and data sparsity are the two traditional and top problems being addressed in 23 and 22 studies each, while movies and movie datasets are still widely used by most of the authors. As most of the studies are evaluated by comparisons with similar methods using accuracy metrics, providing more credible and user oriented evaluations remains a typical challenge. Besides this, newer challenges were also identified such as responding to the variation of user context, evolving user tastes or providing cross-domain recommendations. Being a hot topic, hybrid recommenders represent a good basis with which to respond accordingly by exploring newer opportunities such as contextualizing recommendations, involving parallel hybrid algorithms, processing larger datasets, etc.

* Intelligent Data Analysis, vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 1487-1524, 2017 
* 38 pages, 9 figures, 14 tables. The final authenticated version is available online at