Google Research

Disentangling Preference Representations for Recommendation Critiquing with β-VAE

30th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2021), ACM, New York (to appear)

Abstract

Modern recommender systems usually embed users and items into a learned vector space representation. Similarity in this space is used to generate recommendations, and recommendation methods are agnostic to the structure of the embedding space. Motivated by the need for recommendation systems to be more transparent and controllable, we postulate that it is beneficial to assign meaning to some of the dimensions of user and item representations. Disentanglement is one technique commonly used for this purpose. We present a novel supervised disentangling approach for recommendation tasks. Our model learns embeddings where attributes of interest are disentangled, while requiring only a very small number of labeled items at training time. The model can then generate interactive and critiquable recommendations for all users, without requiring any labels at recommendation time, and without sacrificing any recommendation performance. Our approach thus provides users with levers to manipulate, critique and fine-tune recommendations, and gives insight into why particular recommendations are made. Given only user-item interactions at recommendation time, we show that it identifies user tastes with respect to the attributes that have been disentangled, allowing for users to manipulate recommendations across these attributes.

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