Contribution to proactivity in mobile context-aware recommender systems

Contribution to proactivity in mobile context-aware recommender systems

Dissertation document:

Recommender systems are powerful information filtering tools which offer users personalized suggestions about items whose aim is to satisfy their needs. Traditionally the information used to make recommendations has been based on users’ ratings or data on the item’s consumption history and transactions carried out in the system. However, due to the remarkable growth in mobile devices in our society, new opportunities have arisen to improve these systems by implementing them in ubiquitous environments which provide rich context-awareness information on their location or current activity. Because of this current all-mobile lifestyle, users are socially connected permanently, which allows their context to be enhanced not only with physical information, but also with a social dimension. As a result of these novel contextual data sources, the advent of mobile Context-Aware Recommender Systems (CARS) as a research area has appeared to improve the level of personalization in recommendation. On the other hand, this new scenario in which users have their mobile devices with them all the time offers the possibility of looking into new ways of making recommendations. Evolving the traditional user request-response pattern to a proactive approach is now possible as a result of this rich contextual scenario. Thus, the key idea is that recommendations are made to the user when the current situation is appropriate, attending to the available contextual information without an explicit user request being necessary. This dissertation proposes a set of models, algorithms and methods to incorporate proactivity into mobile CARS, while the impact of proactivity is studied in terms of user experience to extract significant outcomes as to "what", "when" and "how" proactive recommendations have to be notified to users. To this end, the development of this dissertation starts from the proposal of a general architecture for building mobile CARS in scenarios with rich social data along with a new way of managing a recommendation process through a REST interface to make this architecture multi-device and cross-platform compatible. Details as regards its implementation and evaluation in a Spanish banking scenario are provided to validate its usefulness and user acceptance. After that, a novel model is presented for proactivity in mobile CARS which shows the key ideas related to decide when a situation warrants a proactive recommendation by establishing algorithms that represent the relationship between the appropriateness of a situation and the suitability of the candidate items to be recommended. A validation of these ideas in the area of e-learning authoring tools is also presented. Following the previous model, this dissertation presents the design and implementation of new mobile user interfaces for proactive notifications. The results of an evaluation among users testing these novel interfaces is also shown to study the impact of proactivity in the user experience of mobile CARS, while significant factors associated to proactivity are also identified. The last stage of this dissertation merges the previous outcomes to design a new methodology to calculate the appropriateness of a situation so as to incorporate proactivity into mobile CARS. Additionally, this work provides details about its validation in a European e-learning social network in which the whole architecture and proactive recommendation model together with its methods have been implemented. Finally, this dissertation opens up a discussion about the conclusions obtained throughout this research, resulting in useful information from the different design and implementation stages of proactive mobile CARS.


Daniel Gallego Vico

November 20, 2013