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Vexation-Aware Active Learning for On-Menu Restaurant Dish Availability

Jean-François Kagy
Google Scholar


Search engines including Google are beginning to support local-dining queries such as ``At which nearby restaurants can I order the Indonesian salad \textit{gado-gado}?''. Given the low coverage of online menus worldwide, and only 30\% even having a website, this remains a challenge. Here we leverage the power of the crowd: online users who are willing to answer questions about dish availability at restaurants visited. While motivated users are happy to contribute knowledge for free, they are much less likely to respond to ``silly'' or embarrassing questions (e.g., ``Does \textit{Pizza Hut} serve pizza?'' or ``Does \textit{Mike's Vegan Restaurant} serve hamburgers?'') In this paper, we study the problem of \textit{Vexation-Aware Active Learning}, where judiciously selected questions are targeted towards improving restaurant-dish model prediction, subject to a limit on the percentage of ``unsure'' answers or ``dismissals'' (e.g., swiping the app closed) used to measure vexation. We formalize the problem as an integer linear program and solve it efficiently using a distributed solution that scales linearly with the number of candidate questions. Since our algorithm relies on precise estimation of the unsure-dismiss rate (UDR), we give a regression model that provides accurate results compared to baselines including collaborative filtering. Finally, we demonstrate in a live system that our proposed vexation-aware strategy performs competitively against classical (margin-based) active learning approaches while not exceeding UDR bounds.