Fusion Strategies for Learning User Embeddings with Neural Networks

Philipp Blandfort, Tushar Karayil, Federico Raue, Jörn Hees, Andreas Dengel

In: 2019 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks. International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN-2019) July 14-19 Budapest Hungary IEEE 2019.


Growing amounts of online user data motivate the need for automated processing techniques. In case of user ratings, one interesting option is to use neural networks for learning to predict ratings given an item and a user. While training for prediction, such an approach at the same time learns to map each user to a vector, a so-called user embedding. Such embeddings can for example be valuable for estimating user similarity. However, there are various ways how item and user information can be combined in neural networks, and it is unclear how the way of combining affects the resulting embeddings. In this paper, we run an experiment on movie ratings data, where we analyze the effect on embedding quality caused by several fusion strategies in neural networks. For evaluating embedding quality, we propose a novel measure, Pair-Distance Correlation, which quantifies the condition that similar users should have similar embedding vectors. We find that the fusion strategy affects results in terms of both prediction performance and embedding quality. Surprisingly, we find that prediction performance not necessarily reflects embedding quality. This suggests that if embeddings are of interest, the common tendency to select models based on their prediction ability should be reconsidered.

Weitere Links

Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence