Minimizing Time-to-Rank: A Learning and Recommendation Approach

05/27/2019 ∙ by Haoming Li, et al. ∙ 0

Consider the following problem faced by an online voting platform: A user is provided with a list of alternatives, and is asked to rank them in order of preference using only drag-and-drop operations. The platform's goal is to recommend an initial ranking that minimizes the time spent by the user in arriving at her desired ranking. We develop the first optimization framework to address this problem, and make theoretical as well as practical contributions. On the practical side, our experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk provide two interesting insights about user behavior: First, that users' ranking strategies closely resemble selection or insertion sort, and second, that the time taken for a drag-and-drop operation depends linearly on the number of positions moved. These insights directly motivate our theoretical model of the optimization problem. We show that computing an optimal recommendation is NP-hard, and provide exact and approximation algorithms for a variety of special cases of the problem. Experimental evaluation on MTurk shows that, compared to a random recommendation strategy, the proposed approach reduces the (average) time-to-rank by up to 50

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