Do Trust based Social Recommendation Algorithms Work as Intended?
Recommender systems are powerful tools that filter and recommend content/information relevant to a given user. Collaborative filtering is the most popular technique used in building recommender systems and it has been successfully incorporated in many applications. These conventional recommendation systems require a minimum number of users, items, and ratings in order to provide effective recommendations. This results in the infamous cold-start problem where the system is not able to produce effective recommendations for new users. Recently, there has been an escalation in the popularity and usage of social networks, which persuades people to share their experiences in the form of reviews and ratings on social media. The components of social media such as the influence of friends, interests, and enjoyment create the opportunities to develop solutions for sparsity and cold start problems of recommendation systems. This paper aims to observe these patterns and analyze three of the existing social recommendation systems, SocialMF, SocialFD, and GraphRec. SocialMF and SocialFD algorithms are based on matrix factorization and distance metric learning respectively whereas GraphRec is an attention based deep learning model. Through extensive experimentation with the datasets that these algorithms were tested on and one new dataset, we compared the results based on evaluation metrics including Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) and Mean Absolute Error (MAE). To investigate how trust impacts the performance of these models, we evaluated them by modifying the trust and social component. Experimental results show that there is no conclusive evidence that trust propagation plays a major part in these models. Moreover, these models show a slightly improved performance in the absence of trust statements.
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