Smooth neighborhood recommender systems

Ben Dai, Junhui Wang, Xiaotong Shen, Annie Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Recommender systems predict users' preferences over a large number of items by pooling similar information from other users and/or items in the presence of sparse observations. One major challenge is how to utilize user-item specific covariates and networks describing user-item interactions in a high-dimensional situation, for accurate personalized prediction. In this article, we propose a smooth neighborhood recommender in the framework of the latent factor models. A similarity kernel is utilized to borrow neighborhood information from continuous covariates over a user-item specific network, such as a user's social network, where the grouping information defined by discrete covariates is also integrated through the network. Consequently, user-item specific information is built into the recommender to battle the 'cold-start" issue in the absence of observations in collaborative and contentbased filtering. Moreover, we utilize a\divide-and-conquer" version of the alternating least squares algorithm to achieve scalable computation, and establish asymptotic results for the proposed method, demonstrating that it achieves superior prediction accuracy. Finally, we illustrate that the proposed method improves substantially over its competitors in simulated examples and real benchmark data{ music data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Machine Learning Research
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge support for this project from the National Science Foundation grants DMS-1415500, DMS-1712564, DMS-1721216, DMS-1613190, DMS-1415308, DMS-1821198, the National Institute of Health grants 1R01GM126002, R01HL105397, and Hong Kong Research Grant Council grants GRF-11302615, GRF-11303918 and GRF-11331016. The authors are grateful to reviewers and the Action Editor for their insightful comments and suggestions which have improved the manuscript significantly.


  • Blockwise coordinate decent
  • Cold-start
  • Kernel smoothing
  • Neighborhood
  • Personalized prediction
  • Singular value decomposition
  • Social networks

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