MMalfM: explainable recommendation by leveraging reviews and images

Zhiyong Cheng, Xiaojun Chang, Lei Zhu, Rose C. Kanjirathinkal, Mohan Kankanhalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

146 Citations (Scopus)


Personalized rating prediction is an important research problem in recommender systems. Although the latent factor model (e.g., matrix factorization) achieves good accuracy in rating prediction, it suffers from many problems including cold-start, non-transparency, and suboptimal results for individual user-item pairs. In this article, we exploit textual reviews and item images together with ratings to tackle these limitations. Specifically, we first apply a proposed multi-modal aspect-aware topic model (MATM) on text reviews and item images to model users' preferences and items' features from different aspects, and also estimate the aspect importance of a user toward an item. Then, the aspect importance is integrated into a novel aspect-aware latent factor model (ALFM), which learns user's and item's latent factors based on ratings. In particular, ALFM introduces a weight matrix to associate those latent factors with the same set of aspects in MATM, such that the latent factors could be used to estimate aspect ratings. Finally, the overall rating is computed via a linear combination of the aspect ratings, which are weighted by the corresponding aspect importance. To this end, our model could alleviate the data sparsity problem and gain good interpretability for recommendation. Besides, every aspect rating is weighted by its aspect importance, which is dependent on the targeted user's preferences and the targeted item's features. Therefore, it is expected that the proposed method can model a user's preferences on an item more accurately for each user-item pair. Comprehensive experimental studies have been conducted on the Yelp 2017 Challenge dataset and Amazon product datasets. Results show that (1) our method achieves significant improvement compared to strong baseline methods, especially for users with only few ratings; (2) item visual features can improve the prediction performance-the effects of item image features on improving the prediction results depend on the importance of the visual features for the items; and (3) our model can explicitly interpret the predicted results in great detail.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Number of pages28
JournalACM Transactions on Information Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Aspect
  • Explainable recommendation
  • Latent factor model
  • Multi-modal
  • Rating prediction

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