When Recurrent Neural Networks Meet the Neighborhood for Session-Based Recommendation

, and . Proceedings of the Eleventh ACM Conference on Recommender Systems, page 306--310. New York, NY, USA, ACM, (2017)


Deep learning methods have led to substantial progress in various application fields of AI, and in recent years a number of proposals were made to improve recommender systems with artificial neural networks. For the problem of making session-based recommendations, i.e., for recommending the next item in an anonymous session, Hidasi et al.~recently investigated the application of recurrent neural networks with Gated Recurrent Units (GRU4REC). Assessing the true effectiveness of such novel approaches based only on what is reported in the literature is however difficult when no standard evaluation protocols are applied and when the strength of the baselines used in the performance comparison is not clear. In this work we show based on a comprehensive empirical evaluation that a heuristics-based nearest neighbor (kNN) scheme for sessions outperforms GRU4REC in the large majority of the tested configurations and datasets. Neighborhood sampling and efficient in-memory data structures ensure the scalability of the kNN method. The best results in the end were often achieved when we combine the kNN approach with GRU4REC, which shows that RNNs can leverage sequential signals in the data that cannot be detected by the co-occurrence-based kNN method.


When Recurrent Neural Networks meet the Neighborhood for Session-Based Recommendation

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