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Deep density networks and uncertainty in recommender systems

Yoel Zeldes, Stavros Theodorakis, Efrat Solodnik, Aviv Rotman, Gil Chamiel and Dan Friedman

Building robust online content recommendation systems requires learning complex interactions between user preferences and content features. The field has evolved rapidly in recent years from traditional multi-arm bandit and collaborative filtering techniques, with new methods employing Deep Learning models to capture non-linearities. Despite progress, the dynamic nature of online recommendations still poses great challenges, such as finding the delicate balance between exploration and exploitation. In this paper we show how uncertainty estimations can be incorporated by employing them in an optimistic exploitation/exploration strategy for more efficient exploration of new recommendations. We provide a novel hybrid deep neural network model, Deep Density Networks (DDN), which integrates content-based deep learning models with a collaborative scheme that is able to robustly model and estimate uncertainty. Finally, we present online and offline results after incorporating DNN into a real world content recommendation system that serves billions of recommendations per day, and show the benefit of using DDN in practice.