Collaborative Filtering with the Trace Norm: Learning, Bounding, and Transducing


Ohad Shamir, Shai Shalev-Shwartz ;
Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference on Learning Theory, PMLR 19:661-678, 2011.


Trace-norm regularization is a widely-used and successful approach for collaborative filtering and matrix completion. However, its theoretical understanding is surprisingly weak, and despite previous attempts, there are no distribution-free, non-trivial learning guarantees currently known. In this paper, we bridge this gap by providing such guarantees, under mild assumptions which correspond to collaborative filtering as performed in practice. In fact, we claim that previous difficulties partially stemmed from a mismatch betweenthe standard learning-theoretic modeling of collaborative filtering, and its practical application. Our results also shed some light on the issue of collaborative filtering with bounded models, which enforce predictions to lie within a certain range. In particular, we provide experimental and theoretical evidence that such models lead to a modest yet significant improvement.

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