Document Type


Publication Title

Information Processing and Management


The use of pre-training is an emerging technique to enhance a neural model's performance, which has been shown to be effective for many neural language models such as BERT. This technique has also been used to enhance the performance of recommender systems. In such recommender systems, pre-training models are used to learn a better initialisation for both users and items. However, recent existing pre-trained recommender systems tend to only incorporate the user interaction data at the pre-training stage, making it difficult to deliver good recommendations, especially when the interaction data is sparse. To alleviate this rcommon data sparsity issue, we propose to pre-train the recommendation model not only with the interaction data but also with other available information such as the social relations among users, thereby providing the recommender rsystem with a better initialisation compared with solely relying on the ruser interaction data. We propose a novel recommendation model, the Social-aware Gaussian Pre-trained model (SGP), which encodes the user social relations and interaction data at the pre-training stage in a Graph Neural Network (GNN). Afterwards, in the subsequent fine-tuning stage, our SGP model adopts a Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM) to factorise these pre-trained embeddings for further training, thereby benefiting the cold-start users from these pre-built social relations. Our extensive experiments on three public datasets show that, in comparison to 16 competitive baselines, our SGP model significantly outperforms the best baseline by upto 7.7% in terms of NDCG@10. In addition, we show that SGP permits to effectively alleviate the cold-start problem, especially when users newly register to the system through their friends’ suggestions.



Publication Date



Gaussian Mixture Model; Social network; Graph Neural Networks; Recommender systems