Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)
Binbin Jin, Defu Lian, Zheng Liu, Qi Liu, Jianhui Ma, Xing Xie, Enhong Chen
Recommendation techniques are important approaches for alleviating information overload. Being often trained on implicit user feedback, many recommenders suffer from the sparsity challenge due to the lack of explicitly negative samples. The GAN-style recommenders (i.e., IRGAN) addresses the challenge by learning a generator and a discriminator adversarially, such that the generator produces increasingly difficult samples for the discriminator to accelerate optimizing the discrimination objective. However, producing samples from the generator is very time-consuming, and our empirical study shows that the discriminator performs poor in top-k item recommendation. To this end, a theoretical analysis is made for the GAN-style algorithms, showing that the generator of limit capacity is diverged from the optimal generator. This may interpret the limitation of discriminator's performance. Based on these findings, we propose a Sampling-Decomposable Generative Adversarial Recommender (SD-GAR). In the framework, the divergence between some generator and the optimum is compensated by self-normalized importance sampling; the efficiency of sample generation is improved with a sampling-decomposable generator, such that each sample can be generated in O(1) with the Vose-Alias method. Interestingly, due to decomposability of sampling, the generator can be optimized with the closed-form solutions in an alternating manner, being different from policy gradient in the GAN-style algorithms. We extensively evaluate the proposed algorithm with five real-world recommendation datasets. The results show that SD-GAR outperforms IRGAN by 12.4% and the SOTA recommender by 10% on average. Moreover, discriminator training can be 20x faster on the dataset with more than 120K items.