Deep Task-specific Bottom Representation Network for Multi-Task Recommendation

Neural-based multi-task learning (MTL) has gained significant improvement, and it has been successfully applied to recommendation system (RS). Recent deep MTL methods for RS (e.g. MMoE, PLE) focus on designing soft gating-based parameter-sharing networks that implicitly learn a generalized representation for each task. However, MTL methods may suffer from performance degeneration when dealing with conflicting tasks, as negative transfer effects can occur on the task-shared bottom representation. This can result in a reduced capacity for MTL methods to capture task-specific characteristics, ultimately impeding their effectiveness and hindering the ability to generalize well on all tasks. In this paper, we focus on the bottom representation learning of MTL in RS and propose the Deep Task-specific Bottom Representation Network (DTRN) to alleviate the negative transfer problem. DTRN obtains task-specific bottom representation explicitly by making each task have its own representation learning network in the bottom representation modeling stage. Specifically, it extracts the user's interests from multiple types of behavior sequences for each task through the parameter-efficient hypernetwork. To further obtain the dedicated representation for each task, DTRN refines the representation of each feature by employing a SENet-like network for each task. The two proposed modules can achieve the purpose of getting task-specific bottom representation to relieve tasks' mutual interference. Moreover, the proposed DTRN is flexible to combine with existing MTL methods. Experiments on one public dataset and one industrial dataset demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed DTRN.

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