Anytime algorithms for recommendation service providers Academic Article uri icon


  • Recommender systems (RS) can now be found in many commercial Web sites, often presenting customers with a short list of additional products that they might purchase. Many commercial sites do not typically have the ability and resources to develop their own system and may outsource the RS to a third party. This had led to the growth of a recommendation as a service industry, where companies, referred to as RS providers, provide recommendation services. These companies must carefully balance the cost of building recommendation models and the payment received from the e-business, as these payments are expected to be low. In such a setting, restricting the computational time required for model building is critical for the RS provider to be profitable. In this article, we propose anytime algorithms as an attractive method for balancing computational time and the recommendation model performance, thus tackling the RS provider problem. In an anytime setting, an algorithm can be stopped after any amount of computational time, always ensuring that a valid, although suboptimal, solution will be returned. Given sufficient time, however, the algorithm should converge to an optimal solution. In this setting, it is important to evaluate the quality of the returned solution over time, monitoring quality improvement. This is significantly different from traditional evaluation methods, which mostly estimate the performance of the algorithm only after its convergence is given sufficient time. We show that the popular item-item top-N recommendation approach can be brought into the anytime framework by smartly considering the order by which item pairs are being evaluated. We experimentally show that the time-accuracy trade-off can be significantly improved for this specific problem.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016