Active Learning and User Segmentation for the Cold-start Problem in Recommendation Systems

Rabaa Alabdulrahman, Herna Viktor, Eric Paquet

Abstract

Recommendation systems, which are employed to mitigate the information overload faced by e-commerce users, have succeeded in aiding customers during their online shopping experience. However, to be able to make accurate recommendations, these systems require information about the items for sale and information about users’ individual preferences. Making recommendations to new customers, with no prior data in the system, is therefore challenging. This scenario, called the “cold-start problem,” hinders the accuracy of recommendations made to a new user. In this paper, we introduce the popular users personalized predictions (PUPP) framework to address cold-starts. In this framework, soft clustering and active learning is used to accurately recommend items to new users. Experimental evaluation shows that the PUPP framework results in high performance and accurate predictions. Further, focusing on frequent, or so-called “popular,” users during our active-learning stage clearly benefits the learning process.

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