DropoutNet: Addressing Cold Start in Recommender Systems

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 30 (NIPS 2017)

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Maksims Volkovs, Guangwei Yu, Tomi Poutanen


Latent models have become the default choice for recommender systems due to their performance and scalability. However, research in this area has primarily focused on modeling user-item interactions, and few latent models have been developed for cold start. Deep learning has recently achieved remarkable success showing excellent results for diverse input types. Inspired by these results we propose a neural network based latent model called DropoutNet to address the cold start problem in recommender systems. Unlike existing approaches that incorporate additional content-based objective terms, we instead focus on the optimization and show that neural network models can be explicitly trained for cold start through dropout. Our model can be applied on top of any existing latent model effectively providing cold start capabilities, and full power of deep architectures. Empirically we demonstrate state-of-the-art accuracy on publicly available benchmarks. Code is available at https://github.com/layer6ai-labs/DropoutNet.