Two of a kind or the ratings game? Adaptive pairwise preferences and latent factor models

Suhrid Balakrishnan, Sumit Chopra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Latent factor models have become a workhorse for a large number of recommender systems. While these systems are built using ratings data, which is typically assumed static, the ability to incorporate different kinds of subsequent user feedback is an important asset. For instance, the user might want to provide additional information to the system in order to improve his personal recommendations. To this end, we examine a novel scheme for efficiently learning (or refining) user parameters from such feedback. We propose a scheme where users are presented with a sequence of pairwise preference questions: "Do you prefer item A over B?" User parameters are updated based on their response, and subsequent questions are chosen adaptively after incorporating the feedback. We operate in a Bayesian framework and the choice of questions is based on an information gain criterion. We validate the scheme on the Netflix movie ratings data set and a proprietary television viewership data set. A user study and automated experiments validate our findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-208
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers of Computer Science in China
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • active learning
  • latent factor models
  • pairwise preferences
  • recommender systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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