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Learners : Matchbox recommender : Learner API : Evaluation

Item recommendation

In order to evaluate item recommendation, there needs to be a ground truth rating in the test set for each recommended item to a given user. As we do not usually have ratings for all user-item pairs, the set of items that can possibly be recommended to a user must be restricted to those for which we have a rating in the dataset. We will cover here how to make such predictions and how to evaluate them.

Recommending items for evaluation

Items can be recommended for evaluation using the RecommendRatedItems method of the evaluator:

var evaluator = new  RecommenderEvaluator
    <Dataset, User, Item, int, int, Discrete>(dataMapping.ForEvaluation());  
var itemRecommendationsForEvaluation = evaluator.RecommendRatedItems(
    trainedRecommender, testDataset, maxRecommendedItemCount, minRecommendationPoolSize); 

In this example trainedRecommender is a trained recommender and testDataset is the instance source of the test set. Recommendations will be made to each unique user in this dataset. The item in each instance will also be queried by the data mapping. This allows a collection of items to be constructed that can be recommended to each user. Item recommendations are then made only from this collection. Ratings will not be queried by the data mapping at this stage. They will only be needed during evaluation. The parameter maxRecommendedItemCount specifies the number of items to be recommended to each user. But if the number of possible items to recommend to a user is less than the value of minRecommendationPoolSize, then the user is skipped. The last parameter allows for easy removal of users from the predictions for whom there is not sufficient information for later evaluation.

Evaluating item recommendation

Once the restricted recommendations are produced, they can be evaluated using the ItemRecommendationMetric method of the evaluator:

var ndcg = evaluator.ItemRecommendationMetric(  
    testDataset, itemRecommendationsForEvaluation, Metrics.Ndcg);

testDataset is the test instance source of user-item-rating triples to use for evaluation. The item recommendations need to have been produced using the user and item pairs of the same dataset. The ranking metric can be one of the following:

The ratings are used as gains for the computation of the first two metrics above. However, one can specify a custom gain function as a fourth parameter of the ItemRecommendationMetric method. For example, here is how to deal with zero-based ratings:

var ndcg = evaluator.ItemRecommendationMetric(  
    itemRecommendationsForEvaluation, Metrics.Ndcg, rating => Convert.ToDouble(rating) - minRating + 1));