A Critical Reexamination of Intra-List Distance and Dispersion

23 May 2023  ·  Naoto Ohsaka, Riku Togashi ·

Diversification of recommendation results is a promising approach for coping with the uncertainty associated with users' information needs. Of particular importance in diversified recommendation is to define and optimize an appropriate diversity objective. In this study, we revisit the most popular diversity objective called intra-list distance (ILD), defined as the average pairwise distance between selected items, and a similar but lesser known objective called dispersion, which is the minimum pairwise distance. Owing to their simplicity and flexibility, ILD and dispersion have been used in a plethora of diversified recommendation research. Nevertheless, we do not actually know what kind of items are preferred by them. We present a critical reexamination of ILD and dispersion from theoretical and experimental perspectives. Our theoretical results reveal that these objectives have potential drawbacks: ILD may select duplicate items that are very close to each other, whereas dispersion may overlook distant item pairs. As a competitor to ILD and dispersion, we design a diversity objective called Gaussian ILD, which can interpolate between ILD and dispersion by tuning the bandwidth parameter. We verify our theoretical results by experimental results using real-world data and confirm the extreme behavior of ILD and dispersion in practice.

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