Theoretically Guaranteed Bidirectional Data Rectification for Robust Sequential Recommendation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Yatong Sun, Bin Wang, Zhu Sun, Xiaochun Yang, Yan Wang


Sequential recommender systems (SRSs) are typically trained to predict the next item as the target given its preceding (and succeeding) items as the input. Such a paradigm assumes that every input-target pair is reliable for training. However, users can be induced to click on items that are inconsistent with their true preferences, resulting in unreliable instances, i.e., mismatched input-target pairs. Current studies on mitigating this issue suffer from two limitations: (i) they discriminate instance reliability according to models trained with unreliable data, yet without theoretical guarantees that such a seemingly contradictory solution can be effective; and (ii) most methods can only tackle either unreliable input or targets but fail to handle both simultaneously. To fill the gap, we theoretically unveil the relationship between SRS predictions and instance reliability, whereby two error-bounded strategies are proposed to rectify unreliable targets and input, respectively. On this basis, we devise a model-agnostic Bidirectional Data Rectification (BirDRec) framework, which can be flexibly implemented with most existing SRSs for robust training against unreliable data. Additionally, a rectification sampling strategy is devised and a self-ensemble mechanism is adopted to reduce the (time and space) complexity of BirDRec. Extensive experiments on four real-world datasets verify the generality, effectiveness, and efficiency of our proposed BirDRec.