Task-optimized User Clustering based on Mobile App Usage for Cold-start Recommendations
Proceedings of the 28th ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining
This paper reports our recent practice of recommending articles to cold-start users at Tencent. Transferring knowledge from informationrich domains to help user modeling is an effective way to address the user-side cold-start problem. Our previous work demonstrated that general-purpose user embeddings based on mobile app usage helped article recommendations. However, high-dimensional embeddings are cumbersome for online usage, thus limiting the adoption. On the other hand, user clustering,
... partitions users into several groups, can provide a lightweight, online-friendly, and explainable way to help recommendations. Effective user clustering for article recommendations based on mobile app usage faces unique challenges, including (1) the gap between an active user's behavior of mobile app usage and article reading, and (2) the gap between mobile app usage patterns of active and cold-start users. To address the challenges, we propose a tailored Dual Alignment User Clustering (DAUC) model, which applies a sample-wise contrastive alignment to eliminate the gap between active users' mobile app usage and article reading behavior, and a distribution-wise adversarial alignment to eliminate the gap between active users' and cold-start users' app usage behavior. With DAUC, cold-start recommendation-optimized user clustering based on mobile app usage can be achieved. On top of the user clusters, we further build candidate generation strategies, real-time features, and corresponding ranking models without much engineering difficulty. Both online and offline experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our work. CCS CONCEPTS • Information systems → Data mining; Personalization; • Theory of computation → Unsupervised learning and clustering. * Equal contributions from both authors. This work was done when Bulou Liu worked as an intern at Tencent.