In this paper, we study a multi-step interactive recommendation problem, where the item recommended at current step may affect the quality of future recommendations. To address the problem, we develop a novel and effective approach, named CFRL, which seamlessly integrates the ideas of both collaborative filtering (CF) and reinforcement learning (RL). More specifically, we first model the recommender-user interactive recommendation problem as an agent-environment RL task, which is mathematically described by a Markov decision process (MDP). Further, to achieve collaborative recommendations for the entire user community, we propose a novel CF-based MDP by encoding the states of all users into a shared latent vector space. Finally, we propose an effective Q-network learning method to learn the agent's optimal policy based on the CF-based MDP. The capability of CFRL is demonstrated by comparing its performance against a variety of existing methods on real-world datasets.
The increasing interest in user privacy is leading to new privacy preserving machine learning paradigms. In the Federated Learning paradigm, a master machine learning model is distributed to user clients, the clients use their locally stored data and model for both inference and calculating model updates. The model updates are sent back and aggregated on the server to update the master model then redistributed to the clients. In this paradigm, the user data never leaves the client, greatly enhancing the user' privacy, in contrast to the traditional paradigm of collecting, storing and processing user data on a backend server beyond the user's control. In this paper we introduce, as far as we are aware, the first federated implementation of a Collaborative Filter. The federated updates to the model are based on a stochastic gradient approach. As a classical case study in machine learning, we explore a personalized recommendation system based on users' implicit feedback and demonstrate the method's applicability to both the MovieLens and an in-house dataset. Empirical validation confirms a collaborative filter can be federated without a loss of accuracy compared to a standard implementation, hence enhancing the user's privacy in a widely used recommender application while maintaining recommender performance.
We present an end-to-end CNN architecture for fine-grained visual recognition called Collaborative Convolutional Network (CoCoNet). The network uses a collaborative filter after the convolutional layers to represent an image as an optimal weighted collaboration of features learned from training samples as a whole rather than one at a time. This gives CoCoNet more power to encode the fine-grained nature of the data with limited samples in an end-to-end fashion. We perform a detailed study of the performance with 1-stage and 2-stage transfer learning and different configurations with benchmark architectures like AlexNet and VggNet. The ablation study shows that the proposed method outperforms its constituent parts considerably and consistently. CoCoNet also outperforms the baseline popular deep learning based fine-grained recognition method, namely Bilinear-CNN (BCNN) with statistical significance. Experiments have been performed on the fine-grained species recognition problem, but the method is general enough to be applied to other similar tasks. Lastly, we also introduce a new public dataset for fine-grained species recognition, that of Indian endemic birds and have reported initial results on it. The training metadata and new dataset are available through the corresponding author.