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Improving User Topic Interest Profiles by Behavior Factorization

Zhe Zhao
Lichan Hong
Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on World Wide Web, International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee, Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland (2015), pp. 1406-1416


Many recommenders aim to provide relevant recommendations to users by building personal topic interest profiles and then using these profiles to find interesting contents for the user. In social media, recommender systems build user profiles by directly combining users' topic interest signals from a wide variety of consumption and publishing behaviors, such as social media posts they authored, commented on, +1'd or liked. Here we propose to separately model users' topical interests that come from these various behavioral signals in order to construct better user profiles. Intuitively, since publishing a post requires more effort, the topic interests coming from publishing signals should be more accurate of a user's central interest than, say, a simple gesture such as a +1. By separating a single user's interest profile into several behavioral profiles, we obtain better and cleaner topic interest signals, as well as enabling topic prediction for different types of behavior, such as topics that the user might +1 or comment on, but might never write a post on that topic. To do this at large scales in Google+, we employed matrix factorization techniques to model each user's behaviors as a separate example entry in the input user-by-topic matrix. Using this technique, which we call "behavioral factorization", we implemented and built a topic recommender predicting user's topical interests using their actions within Google+. We experimentally showed that we obtained better and cleaner signals than baseline methods, and are able to more accurately predict topic interests as well as achieve better coverage.