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Learning to Rank Recommendations with the k-Order Statistic Loss

Jason Weston
ACM International Conference on Recommender Systems (RecSys) (2013)


Making recommendations by learning to rank is becoming an increasingly studied area. Approaches that use stochastic gradient descent scale well to large collaborative filtering datasets, and it has been shown how to approximately optimize the mean rank, or more recently the top of the ranked list. In this work we present a family of loss functions, the korder statistic loss, that includes these previous approaches as special cases, and also derives new ones that we show to be useful. In particular, we present (i) a new variant that more accurately optimizes precision at k, and (ii) a novel procedure of optimizing the mean maximum rank, which we hypothesize is useful to more accurately cover all of the user’s tastes. The general approach works by sampling N positive items, ordering them by the score assigned by the model, and then weighting the example as a function of this ordered set. Our approach is studied in two real-world systems, Google Music and YouTube video recommendations, where we obtain improvements for computable metrics, and in the YouTube case, increased user click through and watch duration when deployed live on www.youtube.com.