When Recommenders Fail


Michael Ekstrand and John Riedl. 2012. When Recommenders Fail: Predicting Recommender Failure for Algorithm Selection and Combination. Short paper in Proceedings of the Sixth ACM Conference on Recommender Systems (RecSys '12). ACM, pp. 233–236. DOI 10.1145/2365952.2366002. Acceptance rate: 32%. Cited 87 times. Cited 72 times.


Hybrid recommender systems — systems using multiple algorithms together to improve recommendation quality — have been well-known for many years and have shown good performance in recent demonstrations such as the NetFlix Prize. Modern hybridization techniques, such as feature-weighted linear stacking, take advantage of the hypothesis that the relative performance of recommenders varies by circumstance and attempt to optimize each item score to maximize the strengths of the component recommenders. Less attention, however, has been paid to understanding what these strengths and failure modes are. Understanding what causes particular recommenders to fail will facilitate better selection of the component recommenders for future hybrid systems and a better understanding of how individual recommender personalities can be harnessed to improve the recommender user experience. We present an analysis of the predictions made by several well-known recommender algorithms on the MovieLens 10M data set, showing that for many cases in which one algorithm fails, there is another that will correctly predict the rating.


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