Analysis of A Multi-Domain Recommender System

Tiffany Y. Tang1, Pinata Winoto1, and Robert Ziqin Ye2 Dept. of Computer Engineering, Konkuk University, Chungju-Si, Korea, {tiffany, pinata}@kku.ac.kr 2 Institute of Electronic and Information Engineering, Central South Forestry Univ. of Technology, China, yezqin@gmail.com
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Abstract- Recommending items in a multi-domain environment are more challenging than that in a single-domain one. In this paper, we report our findings on uncovering the association between user’s interests of items across domains that are related to each other to a certain degree using two datasets collected from users with different cultural background. Results lead us to believe that due to cultural influences, user preferences over Western and Eastern items (both entertaining item and entertainer) are significantly different. In addition, results suggest the value of the cross-domain RS and reveal that crossdomain recommendation is sensitive to genre among certain domains (Book, Game and Movie), which is valuable for the algorithmic design and implementation of the RS. The results are valuable for the algorithmic design and implementation of the cross-domain RS targeting at users from different countries. Another most significant potential of cross-domain RS is its ability to exploit users’ versatile interest on items in different domains to make serendipity and novel recommendations especially in large-scale commercial systems.

strengthening customer loyalty, one of the goals in Relational Marketing [6, 7]. The same benefits can also be realized if cross-domain recommendation is employed; it is especially valuable if such cross-domain recommendation could be employed in large-scale commercial systems such as Amazon.com. The following example looks at the differences of making recommendations in a traditional and a crossdomain RS respectively. Example. Michelle Fong is in her early thirties, and enjoys watching the Fox TV series Sex and the City very much: she owns the DVDs of all seasons. A traditional RS would recommend Ugly Betty to her; while a cross-domain RS can recommend a wide range of items, from the Movie of the same title, the movie The Devil Wears Prada, to the books The „ Devil Wears Prada and the Lipstick Jungle. This example highlights the differences of the recommendation made by the two different mechanisms: in the traditional RS, recommendation is made on items of the same domain; while in the cross-domain RS, recommendation is made on items from different domains. As such, a crossdomain RS is capable of making use of the most of the items in the system, thus, demonstrating a much greater potential in systems which consist of items from a wide RS and conducted a series of study to uncover two different yet related issues that have been largely ignored: • Whether or not, at the group level, cross-domain interest exist: a correlation analysis. • Whether, at the individual level, a user’s interest in items in certain categories can be used to predict the likeness of related items in other categories: a computational analysis. However, the data in our previous study was obtained from a set of homogeneous users, that is, second-year college students from a university in Hong Kong [5]. Hence, it is appealing to do further empirical study to substantiate our understanding on the cross-domain RS through similar process but different dataset. Also, since most studies in RSs overlook cross-culture issue, in this subsequent study we repeat our experiment based on dataset collected from non-Hong Kong students; providing another study on cross-culture issues in cross-domain recommendation. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In the next section, we will give a brief critical review on four major RS including our proposed cross-domain RS. Then, related work to motivate the necessity and value of the cross-domain RS will be presented. Further, we will focus on a follow-up study in which we intend to substantiate our previous study in [5]

I. INTRODUCTION When there is an information overflow, there is a need for a personalized recommendation which can provide a customized information space for users, and build a community of customers around specific goals or Web services. A successful personalization system would ‘follow’ the steps of its users, automatically learning from groups of similar users and make recommendations accordingly. Recommender Systems (RSs) have been known to be able to do this based on either on consumed items by a user or implicit observations of the user’s likes and dislikes. For example, if a user explicitly indicates that he/she favors action movies starring Matt Damon, then he/she could be recommended movies like The Bourne Supremacy. In this case, the system is able to obtain users’ indicative preferences. Due to its great potential in easing users’ decision-makings, RS has been studied extensively both in research and industry [1-5]. In major RSs, the candidate items upon which various recommendation computations are made come from one domain only, a mechanism referred to as a single domain RS. That is, take an example of making recommendation in MovieLens consisting of millions of ratings on movies: a user will be receiving movies that are closely related to what he/she likes before, even if related books or TV series could also be recommended based on the user model. But since the domain consists only of movies, such multi-domain recommendation is not possible. However, the idea of making multi-domain recommendation looks similar to the cross-sell in marketing, which has many benefits including increasing the profits,

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B. since it works on the generated recommendation items which might already be limited to one domain. Related Work Diversifying Returned Items in a Single-Domain RS Realizing the ‘over-specialization’ of recommendations.281 - . to name a few [6. For instance. in certain complex domains where the dimensions of product include many compound features. It has been extensively studied in the marking and consumer behavior community. 1. or if many users have not rated each item. A cross-domain recommendation is computed based on candidate items from not just one domain as in the traditional RSs. But the service can only be enjoyed after the users have had enough record with the system. as it relies on co-rated items to make recommendation. a user may show interest in items in ‘Football’ and ‘English’. CDs. 1 captures the core behind this type of RS and highlights the difference between it and a typical one. while in our study.and compare their differences. As user profiles in the content-based approach are built through an association with the contents of the documents.13]. especially having bought items from different categories. ratings on items in one or more domains can be used to infer users’ interest in items in other related categories. Less frequently it is used to describe the sale of services to additional business units at an account or to different geographic units of a customer’ [15]. Then. In contrast. the recommendation a user will receive will narrowly be in the same category (or domain) as he/she has searched/browsed (i. C. Cross selling can be . 10. In this case. collaborative filtering approach. such as books. the topic diversification can only. thus. Hybrid recommendation mechanism attempts to smooth out the drawbacks of the two approaches by learning and constructing a unified user profile through the combinations of them. For instance. the approach tends to be quite narrowly focused and with a bias towards highly scored documents. 5.com.g. This type of the recommendation is referred to as the typical recommendation mechanism or a single domain RS. Fig. [14] attempts to diversify the returned items by first assess the intra-list similarity metric to assess the topical diversity among the recommended items before returning them to end users.8]. to a certain degree. Content-based approaches make recommendations based on the contents of the items a user has experienced before [1. e. Major Recommender Systems Generally. we conclude this paper by a discussion of outstanding issues and our future work. some users might have had experiences of receiving items from different categories. Cross-Sell in Marketing and Customer Behaviors Cross-selling is one of the marketing strategies aiming to promote’… the sale of additional products or services to a customer. RECOMMENDER SYSTEMS: A BRIEF REVIEW A. These two problems. Fig. there are four major types of RSs: content-based. In the cross-domain recommendations. To illustrate the cross-domain RS. The ‘Find-Me system” is one example of such systems [12]. prevent users from seeking recommendation information on new items. but the user may have only provided ratings on items on ‘Football’. collaborative filtering approach (CF) largely relies on the numerical ratings users provide to make recommendation. the traditional CF cannot be used to deal with this issue. its simplicity and application-independency makes it the most commonly adopted technique in commercial RSs and the most studied in academic community. toys. a user might be restricted to those documents that are very similar to the ones he/she has read before.e. Particularly. II. [3. if an item has not received enough ratings from users. it can be of help [12. to some degree. The restaurant recommender Entrée allows users to provide incremental and refined critiques (such as “show me more like Reco but less expensive”) on the system’s suggestions through rounds of interactions until an acceptable option is reached. we intend to investigate the presence of users’ cross-domain interests through various analysis including statistical analysis as well as the computational analysis based on the typical CF approach on a large data set collected. Despite it. 16]. Thus. alleviate the problem. correlation computations cannot be well performed. CF’s reliance on user ratings leads to two key drawbacks to the overall performance of the system. hybrid approach and knowledge-based approach. in systems such as Amazon. 11]. we are more interested in items that are related. Overtime. An illustration of cross-domain RS and its difference with a typical RS In our study. 7. Knowledge-based approach builds the user profile gradually by many forms of knowledge structure [12]. 9. etc. also known as the first-rater and the data sparsity respectively. to the book the user is currently viewing or has bought. Notice here that there is a major difference between this study and ours: the items under scrutiny are not so closely related. [4] proposed a hybrid CF to tackle the learner interest diversity issue. Although the critique-like feedback is an inherently fuzzy form of feedback with limited abilities to guide the recommendation process and therefore solicit user preferences. Cross-Domain Recommendations In fact. a cross-selling recommendation). However. a user will be recommended a list of books relevant.

440 in HKs). while the latter consists of items that lead to surprising yet satisfactory user feedbacks. in this paper we will report the analysis of MCs only. Moreover. Correlations among items in different domains Consistent to our results in HKs [5]. 2. that is.0001. 0. Those MCs who show positive feedbacks over TV Series. Particularly. Are there any associations between items of the same genre in different domains? Similar to our previous study [5]. To answer whether or not users’ demographical information should be considered when making recommendations.504 in HKs). Amazon. Spearman correlation is calculated and reported in Fig. That said.k. watching similar movies.0001). one of the driving forces behind the cross-domain recommendation is to make both conscious and unconscious recommendations to users where the former could be the more obvious and direct ones. To verify our previous results using different dataset. Group-Level Data Analysis and Results Are there any associations between items in different domains? Note that since the ratings are ordered numerical rating. especially in a multi-domain setting. For example. for examples. Considering more domains in CF does not necessarily increase the accuracy of the recommendation.81. there are 333 users participated in our study from two different groups: 133 Hong Kong students (hereafter HKs) and 200 Mainland Chinese students (hereafter MCs).a. speak different dialects. romance}. TV Series and Movie are computed and shown in Fig. though much enthusiastic about the TV series or movies the actor/actress stars (r=0. that is all of them are Chinese. across-domain consideration is goal-driven.601 respectively. and Yahoo Listings. ** p<0. though users who favors a singer tend to favor the songs by the singer (r =0. the practical implications are limited. Analysis I. r =0. for those movies in the comedy.782). Fig. p<0. p<0. it can be used to tackle the cold-start problem. therefore. the result is then used to correlate against books in this genre.0001). B. and the other half are women. There are two main goals of this study: 1. In particular. The results revealed consistent pattern between MCs and HKs. The correlations among items in the aggregated theme of Action.506.. In order to study the correlation between items across different domains. which motivates this study. which is much higher than r =0. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS We have performed a set of preliminary studies to investigate the inter-domain relationships in user-rating matrix which grounded the cross-domain RS [5]. crossdomain buying patterns manifest the most. Some discrepancies can be explained as the results of different items being rated by each group. We select MCs in this comparative study because they share common items with HKs.0001. The dataset is based on ratings given by 144 college students in Hong Kong over 522 items.0001 .407. also show similar feelings on Books: the correlation between the ratings on items . domains). drama. A. listening to similar songs.0. Participants In total. Among 200 MCs.844.415. p<0. that is. [17] found out that. So are the strong preference association between a director and the movie he/she directs (r =0. Not all of them have received recommendation from such commercial systems as Amazon. Ratneshwar et al. those users who like a singer does not necessarily tend to enjoy a CD made by the same singer as shown by a moderate correlation (r =0. to obtain the degree of correlations between users’ likes/dislikes across different item categories (a. It can also overcome the overspecialization problem that traditional RS suffers by introducing items from a wider range of domains. Thriller and Suspense from Game. we need to categorize TV series and movies based on established classification of major genres in IMDB.05 . III.001. *** p<.com. the better. 3.488. when we lack user ratings on the target domain. and been exposed to different information. consistent to r = 0. yet with different background.05. p<0. etc. Since the data of our previous study are from homogeneous users. and 0. consisting of 50065 valid ratings. Results suggest that recommendation accuracy is most influenced by the closeness between the crossed domains (from the source domain(s) to identify neighbors for target users to the target domain(s) where items are to be recommended): the closer. MCs having positive feelings on a person as an actor/actress also exhibit strong interest of the same person as a singer (r =0. This approach will enable us to push up the data so as to further our understandings on the correlations between user preferences. in the first step. For instance. and study their correlations. when a single product category could not meet all salient goals. mixed results were obtained in MCs. the majority of them are not familiar with the term RS itself. Reader may refer to [5] for the analysis of HKs. from the customer psychology’s perspective. it has several benefits. 2. significant level D = 0.exercised on products or services belonging to the same domain or different domains with an aim to build tighter customer relationships. However.784. EXPERIMENTS. have some different live-style or educational system. half are men. we make aggregation based on genres in all domains. Due to the limited space. The three counterpart correlations in HKs are 0. 2. drama and romance domains. we ‘sum’ the ratings up as one aggregated domain known as {comedy. Next.282 - . *p<0. Gender makes no difference in our analysis. respectively. we take a broader review on items of the same genre that appeared in different categories. Note.

their cultural differences cannot be ignored. there exhibit very strong correlation between Game and Movie. The chisquare test also confirms that there is a correlation between the rows and the columns of the table. TV series. subjects were largely and profoundly influenced by Western cultures. although the demographical distance between the two groups of users are close. which is consistent with our hypothesis that due to the cultural background. we will compare the correlation among co-rated items by users within/across group. we randomly select 100 target users from each group. Romance. Take an example. Suspense) in Game.817. while subjects in the second study were raised without the same degree of Western cultural influences. df = 26. However. Overall. From software usability engineering’s perspective. Then. p<0. only 10% of the items are Western items. p<0. then we further split them into Entertainers and Entertaining Items. In our case.in these two categories is r = 0.972. In fact. TV Series and Movie. Drama and Comedy-themed TV Series. (HKs. those who like Will Smith also like iRobot. 21] etc. that is {(HKs. The observed F2value is higher than critical value. (MCs. . Do users prefer Eastern or Western items? We believe the culture difference play a key role in RSs. df = 16.5 (two tailed). r =. D = 0. HKs). t=3. Thriller. To proceed.9. and those rated with 4 or 5 as good items.367. D = 0.05 at significant level D = 0. 5. this correlation is not significant and weaker when compared with that regarding Western elements. p < 0. 20 CDs. where t = 2.0005. D= 0. although in our two studies.967. At the group level. HKs). The result is consistent with that in HKs. Drama and Comedy. In order to evaluate the performance of multi-domain CF.581.283 - . A comparison can then be made to see whether the target user can benefit from seeking recommendation from different group or not. in our second study. subjects are Chinese. while in the first study. The Role of Demographical Information Our second major goal to answer whether or not cultural issues should be considered for the designer or owner of the commercial system making use of RS mechanisms. Evaluation Protocol First. Then for each target user we seek the highest correlation between him/her with others in the same group or the other group. and 0. Analysis II. D = 0. and Movie and Book in this genre.005 respectively. In order to calculate the error.000. 3. user preferences over Western and Eastern items (both entertaining item and entertainer) are very significant different. Neighbor Users).05. we have 11 books.001. but in our first study.294. Then. 19]. a strong correlation is obtained between Movie and TV Series.975 in HKs). MCs). and 2). C. Game and Movie) in both MCs and HKs. a cross-validation technique suggested as appropriate for smallsample experiments was used [5. r = 0. p < 0. though the correlation is not significant. 0. Movie and Book. The results are generally align with our belief that user interest across domains exist. We are interested in whether or not there is a trend to favor Western or Eastern items by MCs users. with r =1. F2=38. To do that.766. and described in a confusion matrix. Meanwhile. 9 Games. a more homogeneous a group of users is. where r = 0. r =1. t = 1. we seek a closest neighbor.05. categorized into 4 treatments in the pair wise of (Target Users. df = 8. However. p<0. for each target user. df = 36. Intuitively. The chi-square test also confirms that there is a correlation between the rows and the columns of the table. 20]. p<0.924 in HKs respectively. The result indicates that there is a very strong correlation between user preferences between Western Entertainer and Western Entertaining Item.9 (compared to 0. we only consider items that appear in both data sets (HKs and MCs). yet inconclusive due to insignificant results. Correlations among items (theme: Action. In order to further study whether there are some cultural effects in our problem domain. then we set the composition of our target users in MCs are 80 male and 20 female too.05. Not surprisingly.153.05.005. we consider items that are rated with 1 or 2 as bad items. F2=30. Since approximately 20% of HKs are female. and Book on Romance. 36 Movies. TV As for Movies. we did not find many differences regarding user feedbacks on Action. 14 Songs. t = 0.005. df = 8. (MCs. Thriller. However. no research has been done aiming at an understanding of whether cultural difference plays a key role in user preferences.05. Suspense-themed Game. compared to 0. Many studies in marketing have shown that culture is an important factor that affect human consumption pattern [18. we performed t-test on a number of items. a more likely that the recommendation made within the group is accurate. MCs)}. the social issue should be considered when designing a RS. and 18 TV Series. we group items into Western and Eastern ones. p < 0. to our knowledge. Although this finding is direct and natural. especially in a multi-domain setting. The confusion matrix will consist of predictive accuracy metrics to Fig. The results lead us to believe that crossdomain recommendation is sensitive to genre among certain domains (Book.05.05.05 (two tailed). and calculate the consistency of good/bad items between them. this percentage is much high over 50%. although users who enjoy Eastern Entertainer also show positive feelings towards Eastern Entertaining Item. p < 0. Book and Game. The evaluation protocol is widely adopted in the RS community including [3. users differ significantly in their preferences over: 1). Game and Book. df = 36. it is stronger than the one we obtained from HKs.000. both at significant level D = 0. which can be of important to diversify the recommendations if it can be incorporated into the recommendation process to inform the system.

because the true Fig. HKs) to 57. more rigorous studies are needed before we can arrive at such a conclusion.284 - . hence. The results of cross-culture CF are on the bottom-left (HKs. when a neighbor recommend a predicted good item and indeed rated as a good one by the target user (true positive). especially in cross-domain settings.0% and 56. Fig. The results of cross-culture correlation are highlighted in bold font. similar results are obtained and suggest the value of . MCs).8% in (HKs. they do not give any practical implication. positive reduce from 66. Also. or Movies/TV Series/Songs/CDs together.5% in (MCs. which means that it is better for them to find neighbors in the same group. CONCLUDING REMARKS With an aim to cadet users’ full spectrum of interests and an influence of the cross-sell in marketing. HKs). but not the reverse. we have justified our conclusions through another dataset obtained from users with different cultural background. IV. The results suggest the disadvantage of employing crossculture recommendation for HKs.5 also shows the total number of co-ratings used in this experiment. 4. 5. Fig. we proposed the multi-domain recommendation and performed a series of studies.8% in (MCs. as the true positive is 54. For each treatment. The confusion matrices after CF. 4 shows the results of correlation analysis when we consider all items. Of the types of cross-domain recommendation approaches. from Fig. But the results are not symmetric. movies/TV series/songs/CDs (middle). and the highest in (MCs. However. HKs) is lower than that in (MCs. The matrix consists of four situations. we need to analyze the accuracy of recommendation through CF method. since the above results are for Pearson correlation per se. MCs). the results suggest that recommendation accuracy is most influenced by the closeness between the crossed domains (from the source domain(s) to identify neighbors for target users to the target domain(s) where items are to be recommended): the closer. the results suggest the disadvantage of employing crossculture recommendation for HKs. However. MCs) and upper-right part (MCs. Our previous evaluation study revealed that the slight decrease of recommendation accuracy can be complemented by the diversity of returned items which is. 5). MCs). which means target users in MCs are indifferent for recommendation from HKs or MCs. when it is predicted as bad but turns out be favorable by the target user (false negative). we report a confusion matrix of the number of correct/wrong predictions and its corresponding percentage. with the lowest number in treatment (MCs. and movies/TV series (bottom). 5 shows the results of CF based on a single closest neighbor for each target user in the form of confusion matrices. this result is not important in recommendation systems since they will not recommend bad item to the target users. We offer one explanation regarding the asymmetric property in cross-cultural recommendation: MCs have more diverse preferences as the average correlation among them is lower than that in HKs (cf.1%). then we may conclude that crossculture recommendation is fine for online communities with diverse background. which means more target user in MCs may find a better neighbor (higher correlation) in HKs. but not for those in homogeneous cultural background. One may argue that the true negative of (MCs.examine how close the RS’s predicted ratings given by a neighbor are to the true user ratings. the better. and when it is predicted as a bad one and indeed rated as a bad one (true negative). when the item is predicted as good but rated badly by the target user (false positive). HKs) equals to 2610. to some degree. while their false negative do not change significantly (55. As can be seen here. Movies/TV Series only. Results II: Recommendation Analysis Fig. that is. In current study. 4 we observe that the correlation increases as the number of domains used to find neighbors decreases (from the top table to the bottom table). Nonetheless. our study has shown that it may not always bad of getting recommendation from other group of users with different cultural background. However. which means it is better for them to find neighbors in the same group. Overall. Results I: Correlation Analysis Fig. MCs) that insignificantly lower than 55. Fig. If this is the reason. more essential to end users in terms of the utility of a RS. The average maximum correlation within and across groups based on ratings on all items (top). MCs) equals to 4046.9% in (HKs.

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