State of the art recommender systems support users in the selection of items from a predefined assortment (for example, movies, books, and songs). In contrast to an explicit definition of each individual item, configurable products such as computers, financial service portfolios, and cars are repre sented in the form of a configuration knowledge base that describes the properties of allowed instances. Although the knowledge representation used is different compared to non-confi gurable products, the decision support requirements remain the same: users have to be supported in finding a solution that fits their wishes and needs. In this article we show how recommendation technologies can be applied for supporting the configuration of products.
Recommender systems are tools for interacting with large and complex information spaces. The field, christened in 1995, has grown enormously in the variety of problems addressed and techniques employed, as well as in its practical applications. Recommender systems research has incorporated a wide variety of artificial intelligence techniques including machine learning, data mining, user modeling, case-based reasoning, and constraint satisfaction, among others. The purpose of the articles in this special issue is to take stock of the current landscape of recommender systems research and identify directions the field is now taking.
For the last two decades, configuration systems relying on AI techniques have successfully been applied in industrial environments. These systems support the configuration of complex products and services in shorter time with fewer errors and, therefore, reduce the costs of a mass-customization business model. The European Union-funded project entitled CUSTOMER-ADAPTIVE WEB INTERFACE FOR THE CONFIGURATION OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES WITH MULTIPLE SUPPLIERS (CAWICOMS) aims at the next generation of web-based configuration applications that cope with two challenges of today's open, networked economy: (1) the support for heterogeneous user groups in an open-market environment and (2) the integration of configurable subproducts provided by specialized suppliers. This article describes the CAWICOMS WORKBENCH for the development of configuration services, offering personalized user interaction as well as distributed configuration of products and services in a supply chain.