Optimizing Offer Sets in Sub-Linear Time

11/17/2020
by   Vivek F. Farias, et al.
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Personalization and recommendations are now accepted as core competencies in just about every online setting, ranging from media platforms to e-commerce to social networks. While the challenge of estimating user preferences has garnered significant attention, the operational problem of using such preferences to construct personalized offer sets to users is still a challenge, particularly in modern settings where a massive number of items and a millisecond response time requirement mean that even enumerating all of the items is impossible. Faced with such settings, existing techniques are either (a) entirely heuristic with no principled justification, or (b) theoretically sound, but simply too slow to work. Thus motivated, we propose an algorithm for personalized offer set optimization that runs in time sub-linear in the number of items while enjoying a uniform performance guarantee. Our algorithm works for an extremely general class of problems and models of user choice that includes the mixed multinomial logit model as a special case. We achieve a sub-linear runtime by leveraging the dimensionality reduction from learning an accurate latent factor model, along with existing sub-linear time approximate near neighbor algorithms. Our algorithm can be entirely data-driven, relying on samples of the user, where a `sample' refers to the user interaction data typically collected by firms. We evaluate our approach on a massive content discovery dataset from Outbrain that includes millions of advertisements. Results show that our implementation indeed runs fast and with increased performance relative to existing fast heuristics.

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