Enhancing Conversational Recommendation Systems with Representation Fusion

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ACM Transactions on the Web


Conversational Recommendation Systems (CRSs) aim to improve recommendation performance by utilizing information from a conversation session. A CRS first constructs questions and then asks users for their feedback in each conversation session to refine better recommendation lists to users. The key design of CRS is to construct proper questions and obtain users' feedback in response to these questions so as to effectively capture user preferences. Many CRS works have been proposed; however, they suffer from defects when constructing questions for users to answer: (1) employing a dialogue policy agent for constructing questions is one of the most common choices in CRS, but it needs to be trained with a huge corpus, and (2) it is not appropriate that constructing questions from a single policy (e.g., a CRS only selects attributes that the user has interacted with) for all users with different preferences. To address these defects, we propose a novel CRS model, namely a Representation Fusion-based Conversational Recommendation model, where the whole conversation session is divided into two subsessions (i.e., Local Question Search subsession and Global Question Search subsession) and two different question search methods are proposed to construct questions in the corresponding subsessions without employing policy agents. In particular, in the Local Question Search subsession we adopt a novel graph mining method to find questions, where the paths in the graph between users and attributes can eliminate irrelevant attributes; in the Global Question Search subsession we propose to initialize user preference on items with the user and all item historical rating records and construct questions based on user's preference. Then, we update the embeddings independently over the two subsessions according to user's feedback and fuse the final embeddings from the two subsessions for the recommendation. Experiments on three real-world recommendation datasets demonstrate that our proposed method outperforms five state-of-the-art baselines.

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Conversational Recommendation Systems, interactive recommendation, representation learning


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