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Collaborative Filtering with Temporal Dynamics


customers examine product preferences

Credit: Global TGI

Customer preferences for products are drifting over time. Product perception and popularity are constantly changing as new selection emerges. Similarly, customer inclinations are evolving, leading them to ever redefine their taste. Thus, modeling temporal dynamics is essential for designing recommender systems or general customer preference models. However, this raises unique challenges. Within the ecosystem intersecting multiple products and customers, many different characteristics are shifting simultaneously, while many of them influence each other and often those shifts are delicate and associated with a few data instances. This distinguishes the problem from concept drift explorations, where mostly a single concept is tracked. Classical time-window or instance decay approaches cannot work, as they lose too many signals when discarding data instances. A more sensitive approach is required, which can make better distinctions between transient effects and long-term patterns. We show how to model the time changing behavior throughout the life span of the data. Such a model allows us to exploit the relevant components of all data instances, while discarding only what is modeled as being irrelevant. Accordingly, we revamp two leading collaborative filtering recommendation approaches. Evaluation is made on a large movie-rating dataset underlying the Netflix Prize contest. Results are encouraging and better than those previously reported on this dataset. In particular, methods described in this paper play a significant role in the solution that won the Netflix contest.

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