Improving the quality of recommendations for users and items in the tail of distribution

Liang HU, Longbing CAO, Jian CAO, Zhiping GU, Guandong XU, Jie WANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Short-head and long-tail distributed data are widely observed in the real world. The same is true of recommender systems (RSs), where a small number of popular items dominate the choices and feedback data while the rest only account for a small amount of feedback. As a result, most RS methods tend to learn user preferences from popular items since they account for most data. However, recent research in e-commerce and marketing has shown that future businesses will obtain greater profit from long-tail selling. Yet, although the number of long-tail items and users is much larger than that of short-head items and users, in reality, the amount of data associated with long-tail items and users is much less. As a result, user preferences tend to be popularity-biased. Furthermore, insufficient data makes long-tail items and users more vulnerable to shilling attack. To improve the quality of recommendations for items and users in the tail of distribution, we propose a coupled regularization approach that consists of two latent factor models: C-HMF, for enhancing credibility, and S-HMF, for emphasizing specialty on user choices. Specifically, the estimates learned from C-HMF and S-HMF recurrently serve as the empirical priors to regularize one another. Such coupled regularization leads to the comprehensive effects of final estimates, which produce more qualitative predictions for both tail users and tail items. To assess the effectiveness of our model, we conduct empirical evaluations on large real-world datasets with various metrics. The results prove that our approach significantly outperforms the compared methods. Copyright © 2017 ACM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalACM Transactions on Information Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


Hu, L., Cao, L., Cao, J., Gu, Z., Xu, G., & Wang, J. (2017). Improving the quality of recommendations for users and items in the tail of distribution. ACM Transactions on Information Systems, 35(3), Article 25.


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