Improving Recommender Systems by Incorporating Social Contextual Information
Due to their potential commercial value and the associated great research challenges, recommender systems have been extensively studied by both academia and industry recently. However, the data sparsity problem of the involved user-item matrix seriously affects the recommendation quality. Many existing approaches to recommender systems cannot easily deal with users who have made very few ratings. In view of the exponential growth of information generated by online users, social contextual information analysis is becoming important for many Web applications. In this article, we propose a factor analysis approach based on probabilistic matrix factorization to alleviate the data sparsity and poor prediction accuracy problems by incorporating social contextual information, such as social networks and social tags. The complexity analysis indicates that our approach can be applied to very large datasets since it scales linearly with the number of observations. Moreover, the experimental results show that our method performs much better than the state-of-the-art approaches, especially in the circumstance that users have made few ratings.