A Latent Source Model for Online Collaborative Filtering

Neural Information Processing Systems

Despite the prevalence of collaborative filtering in recommendation systems, there has been little theoretical development on why and how well it works, especially in the ``online'' setting, where items are recommended to users over time. We address this theoretical gap by introducing a model for online recommendation systems, cast item recommendation under the model as a learning problem, and analyze the performance of a cosine-similarity collaborative filtering method. In our model, each of $n$ users either likes or dislikes each of $m$ items. We assume there to be $k$ types of users, and all the users of a given type share a common string of probabilities determining the chance of liking each item. At each time step, we recommend an item to each user, where a key distinction from related bandit literature is that once a user consumes an item (e.g., watches a movie), then that item cannot be recommended to the same user again. The goal is to maximize the number of likable items recommended to users over time. Our main result establishes that after nearly $\log(km)$ initial learning time steps, a simple collaborative filtering algorithm achieves essentially optimal performance without knowing $k$. The algorithm has an exploitation step that uses cosine similarity and two types of exploration steps, one to explore the space of items (standard in the literature) and the other to explore similarity between users (novel to this work).


A Latent Source Model for Online Collaborative Filtering

arXiv.org Machine Learning

Despite the prevalence of collaborative filtering in recommendation systems, there has been little theoretical development on why and how well it works, especially in the "online" setting, where items are recommended to users over time. We address this theoretical gap by introducing a model for online recommendation systems, cast item recommendation under the model as a learning problem, and analyze the performance of a cosine-similarity collaborative filtering method. In our model, each of $n$ users either likes or dislikes each of $m$ items. We assume there to be $k$ types of users, and all the users of a given type share a common string of probabilities determining the chance of liking each item. At each time step, we recommend an item to each user, where a key distinction from related bandit literature is that once a user consumes an item (e.g., watches a movie), then that item cannot be recommended to the same user again. The goal is to maximize the number of likable items recommended to users over time. Our main result establishes that after nearly $\log(km)$ initial learning time steps, a simple collaborative filtering algorithm achieves essentially optimal performance without knowing $k$. The algorithm has an exploitation step that uses cosine similarity and two types of exploration steps, one to explore the space of items (standard in the literature) and the other to explore similarity between users (novel to this work).


Alternating Linear Bandits for Online Matrix-Factorization Recommendation

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We consider the problem of online collaborative filtering in the online setting, where items are recommended to the users over time. At each time step, the user (selected by the environment) consumes an item (selected by the agent) and provides a rating of the selected item. In this paper, we propose a novel algorithm for online matrix factorization recommendation that combines linear bandits and alternating least squares. In this formulation, the bandit feedback is equal to the difference between the ratings of the best and selected items. We evaluate the performance of the proposed algorithm over time using both cumulative regret and average cumulative NDCG. Simulation results over three synthetic datasets as well as three real-world datasets for online collaborative filtering indicate the superior performance of the proposed algorithm over two state-of-the-art online algorithms.


Adapting to User Preference Changes in Interactive Recommendation

AAAI Conferences

Recommender systems have become essential tools in many application areas as they help alleviate information overload by tailoring their recommendations to users' personal preferences. Users' interests in items, however, may change over time depending on their current situation. Without considering the current circumstances of a user, recommendations may match the general preferences of the user, but they may have small utility for the user in his/her current situation.We focus on designing systems that interact with the user over a number of iterations and at each step receive feedback from the user in the form of a reward or utility value for the recommended items. The goal of the system is to maximize the sum of obtained utilities over each interaction session. We use a multi-armed bandit strategy to model this online learning problem and we propose techniques for detecting changes in user preferences. The recommendations are then generated based on the most recent preferences of a user. Our evaluation results indicate that our method can improve the existing bandit algorithms by considering the sudden variations in the user's feedback behavior.


Regret Bounds and Regimes of Optimality for User-User and Item-Item Collaborative Filtering

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We consider an online model for recommendation systems, with each user being recommended an item at each time-step and providing 'like' or 'dislike' feedback. A latent variable model specifies the user preferences: both users and items are clustered into types. All users of a given type have identical preferences for the items, and similarly, items of a given type are either all liked or all disliked by a given user. The model captures structure in both the item and user spaces, and in this paper, we assume that the type preference matrix is randomly generated. We describe two algorithms inspired by user-user and item-item collaborative filtering (CF), modified to explicitly make exploratory recommendations, and prove performance guarantees in terms of their expected regret. For two regimes of model parameters, with structure only in item space or only in user space, we prove information-theoretic lower bounds on regret that match our upper bounds up to logarithmic factors. Our analysis elucidates system operating regimes in which existing CF algorithms are nearly optimal.