learning constructs. Leading e-commerce playersuse recommendation engines that sift users’ pastpurchase histories to recommend products suchas magazine articles, books, goods, etc. Here ishow major e-commerce companies use recom-mendation engines to improve their sales andtheir customers’ shopping experience.
Depending on past purchasesand user activity, the site recommends prod-ucts of user interest.
Recommends DVDs in which a usermay be interested by category like drama,comedy, action, etc. Netix went so far as tooffer a $1 million
prize to researchers whocould improve its recommendation engine.
Collects user feedback about its prod-ucts which is then used to recommend prod-ucts to users who have exhibited similar be-haviors.
Online companies that leverage recommendationsystems can increase sales by 8% to12%.
Companies that succeed with recommendationengines are those that can quickly and efcientlyturn vast amounts of data into actionable infor-mation.
Anatomy of a Recommendation Engine
The key component of a recommendation systemis data. This data may be garnered by a varietyof means such as customer ratings of products,feedback/reviews from purchasers, etc. This datawill serve as the basis for recommendations tousers. After data collection, recommendationsystems use machine-learning algorithms tond similarities and afnities between productsand users. Recommender logic programs arethen used to build suggestions for specic userproles. This technique of ltering the input dataand giving recommendations to users is alsoknown as “collaborative ltering.”
Along with collaborative ltering, recommenda-tion systems also use other machine-learningtechniques such as clustering and classicationof data. Clustering is a technique which is used tobundle large amounts of data together into similarcategories. It is also used to see data patterns andrender huge amounts of data simpler to manage.For instance, Google News
creates clusters ofsimilar news information when grouping diversearrays of news articles. Many other searchengines use clustering to group results for similarsearch terms.Classication is a technique used to decidewhether new input or a search term matchesa previously observed pattern. It is also usedto detect suspicious network activity. Yahoo!Mail
uses classication to decide if an incomingmessage is spam. Image sharing sites like Picasa
use classication techniques to determinewhether photos contain human faces. Theythen offer recommendations of people that areidentied in the user contacts list.
A Robust System to CounterInformation Overload
We are working with a leading multinational man-ufacturing company that has numerous productresearch labs with many scientists and research-ers in numerous countries working on differenttechnologies. To help facilitate scientic research,and to buy the latest technology information, thisclient partnered with information providers suchas Scopus, Knovel, etc. But despite these datasources, scientists and researchers were oftenunable to nd the right information to improvetheir research. Also, scientists across the globewere unable to collaborate and share technicalinformation with each other. This situation istypical of companies dealing with informationoverload.To increase the informational awareness ofscientists and other employees, the client wantedto create a system to recommend resources likepatents, articles and journals from paid contentproviders. A successful system needed to learnfrom user searches and be intelligent enough torecommend popular resources similar to the onesthat a user is currently working from. The systemwas also expected to provide scientists withuseful insights on information other scientistsacross the globe are using. Finally, the systemwas to serve as a platform to connect scientistsworking on similar technologies.We helped to design and develop the system,which was dubbed “intelligent recommendationsystem” (IRS). Many of the problems the orga-nization faced originated from the multiple pref-erences and needs of users pertaining to theirindividual research topics. To make the systemadaptive to specic user requirements, thesolution proposed was to use a recommendationsystem. As a rst step towards the solution, thelarge information base possessed by the clientwas categorized/grouped by specic criteria.After much contemplation of data and size of theuser base, we decided to implement the systemusing the Apache Mahout framework.cognizant 20-20 insights