fLDA: Matrix Factorization through Latent Dirichlet Allocation

author: Bee-Chung Chen, LinkedIn Corporation
published: Feb. 22, 2010,   recorded: February 2010,   views: 5210

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We propose fLDA, a novel matrix factorization method to predict ratings in recommender system applications where a “bag-of-words” representation for item meta-data is natu- ral. Such scenarios are commonplace in web applications like content recommendation, ad targeting and web search where items are articles, ads and web pages respectively. Because of data sparseness, regularization is key to good predictive accuracy. Our method works by regularizing both user and item factors simultaneously through user features and the bag of words associated with each item. Specifically, each word in an item is associated with a discrete latent factor often referred to as the topic of the word; item topics are obtained by averaging topics across all words in an item. Then, user rating on an item is modeled as user’s affinity to the item’s topics where user affinity to topics (user factors) and topic assignments to words in items (item factors) are learned jointly in a supervised fashion. To avoid overfitting, user and item factors are regularized through Gaussian linear regression and Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) priors respectively.

We show our model is accurate, interpretable and handles both cold-start and warm-start scenarios seamlessly through a single model. The efficacy of our method is illustrated on benchmark datasets and a new dataset from Yahoo! Buzz where fLDA provides superior predictive accuracy in cold-start scenarios and is comparable to state-of- the-art methods in warm-start scenarios. As a by-product, fLDA also identifies interesting topics that explains user- item interactions. Our method also generalizes a recently proposed technique called supervised LDA (sLDA) to col- laborative filtering applications. While sLDA estimates item topic vectors in a supervised fashion for a single regression, fLDA incorporates multiple regressions (one for each user) in estimating the item factors.

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