Try This Instead: Personalized and Interpretable Substitute Recommendation

by   Tong Chen, et al.

As a fundamental yet significant process in personalized recommendation, candidate generation and suggestion effectively help users spot the most suitable items for them. Consequently, identifying substitutable items that are interchangeable opens up new opportunities to refine the quality of generated candidates. When a user is browsing a specific type of product (e.g., a laptop) to buy, the accurate recommendation of substitutes (e.g., better equipped laptops) can offer the user more suitable options to choose from, thus substantially increasing the chance of a successful purchase. However, existing methods merely treat this problem as mining pairwise item relationships without the consideration of users' personal preferences. Moreover, the substitutable relationships are implicitly identified through the learned latent representations of items, leading to uninterpretable recommendation results. In this paper, we propose attribute-aware collaborative filtering (A2CF) to perform substitute recommendation by addressing issues from both personalization and interpretability perspectives. Instead of directly modelling user-item interactions, we extract explicit and polarized item attributes from user reviews with sentiment analysis, whereafter the representations of attributes, users, and items are simultaneously learned. Then, by treating attributes as the bridge between users and items, we can thoroughly model the user-item preferences (i.e., personalization) and item-item relationships (i.e., substitution) for recommendation. In addition, A2CF is capable of generating intuitive interpretations by analyzing which attributes a user currently cares the most and comparing the recommended substitutes with her/his currently browsed items at an attribute level. The recommendation effectiveness and interpretation quality of A2CF are demonstrated via extensive experiments on three real datasets.


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