Recent Blog Entries

Old Papers on Recommender Systems

Published on 9 October 2014 and tagged with research, recsys.

There’s a lot of research on recommender systems. There’s a lot of other research that, while not directly mentioning recommenders, is very relevant, including research from decades ago.

A few of my favorite old papers that I think recommender systems researchers would do well to read (and perhaps cite):

Comparing Recommendation Lists

Published on 8 October 2014 and tagged with research, recommender systems.

In my research, I am trying to understand how different recommender algorithms behave in different situations. We’ve known for a while that ‘different recommenders are different’1, to paraphrase Sean McNee. However, we lack thorough data on how they are different in a variety of contexts. Our RecSys 2014 paper, User Perception of Differences in Recommender Algorithms (by myself, Max Harper, Martijn Willemsen, and Joseph Konstan), reports on an experiment that we ran to collect some of this data.

I have done some work on this subject in offline contexts already; my When Recommenders Fail paper looked at contexts in which different algorithms make different mistakes. LensKit makes it easy to test many different algorithms in the same experimental setup and context. This experiment brings my research goals back into the user experiment realm: directly measuring the ways in which users experience the output of different algorithms as being different.


  1. I believe I owe this phrasing to my colleague Morten Warncke-Wang.

Vegan Biscuits and Gravy

Published on 5 October 2014 and tagged with food, recipes.

I love biscuits and gravy. But their traditional form doesn’t work for our family, so over the last months I’ve adapted and refined a recipe for vegan biscuits and gravy that is now our standard Sunday morning breakfast.

This recipe makes enough biscuits for 4 and gravy for 2.

To filter or not to filter?

Published on 29 September 2014.

Rumors have been afloat that Twitter may be making a significant change to its service: moving away from the reverse-chronological timeline in favor of an algorithmically tuned news feed. And Zeynep Tufekci’s critique of this prospect made the rounds, in waves, through my Twitter stream.

I must confess, my initial reading of Tufekci’s article (as a recommender systems researcher and developer) was somewhat knee-jerk. I latched on to this statement:

Zucchini Pasta

Published on 9 August 2014 and tagged with recipes, vegetables.

Inspired by a delicious zucchini ratatouille I had at Root Cellar Cafe, I ordered a julienne peeler and bought some vegetables from the farmer’s market tried to make something like it. There is still a bit of refining to do, but it worked pretty well:

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