On Unexpectedness in Recommender Systems

Panagiotis Adamopoulos, Alexander Tuzhilin
2014 ACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology  
Although the broad social and business success of recommender systems has been achieved across several domains, there is still a long way to go in terms of user satisfaction. One of the key dimensions for significant improvement is the concept of unexpectedness. In this article, we propose a method to improve user satisfaction by generating unexpected recommendations based on the utility theory of economics. In particular, we propose a new concept of unexpectedness as recommending to users
more » ... items that depart from what they would expect from the system -the consideration set of each user. We define and formalize the concept of unexpectedness and discuss how it differs from the related notions of novelty, serendipity, and diversity. In addition, we suggest several mechanisms for specifying the users' expectations and propose specific performance metrics to measure the unexpectedness of recommendation lists. We also take into consideration the quality of recommendations using certain utility functions and present an algorithm for providing users with unexpected recommendations of high quality that are hard to discover but fairly match their interests. Finally, we conduct several experiments on "real-world" datasets and compare our recommendation results with other methods. The proposed approach outperforms these baseline methods in terms of unexpectedness and other important metrics, such as coverage, aggregate diversity and dispersion, while avoiding any accuracy loss. ACM Reference Format: Panagiotis Adamopoulos and Alexander Tuzhilin. 2014. On unexpectedness in recommender systems: Or how to better expect the unexpected.
doi:10.1145/2559952 fatcat:elbnlvmogff53ej3zudjkqr7qu