Using Time Clusters for Following Users’ Shifts in Rating Practices

Dionisis Margaris and Costas Vassilakis
Complex Systems Informatics and Modeling Quarterly, 75(13), pp. 22–42, December 2017/January 2018; DOI:

Users that enter ratings for items follow different rating practices, in the sense that, when rating items, some users are more lenient, while others are stricter. This aspect is taken into account by the most widely used similarity metric in user-user collaborative filtering, namely, the Pearson Correlation, which adjusts each individual user rating by the mean value of the ratings entered by the specific user, when computing similarities. However, a user’s rating practices change over time, i.e. a user could start as strict and subsequently become lenient or vice versa. In that sense, the practice of using a single mean value for adjusting users’ ratings is inadequate, since it fails to follow such shifts in users’ rating practices, leading to decreased rating prediction accuracy. In this work, we address this issue by using the concept of dynamic averages introduced earlier and we extend earlier work by (1) introducing the concept of rating time clusters and (2) presenting a novel algorithm for calculating dynamic user averages and exploiting them in user-user collaborative, filtering implementations. The proposed algorithm incorporates the aforementioned concept and is able to follow more successfully shifts in users’ rating practices. It has been evaluated using numerous datasets, and has been found to introduce significant gains in rating prediction accuracy, while outperforming the dynamic average computation approaches that are presented earlier.

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