Collaborative filtering and deep learning based recommendation system for cold start items

Jian Wei, Jianhua He*, Kai Chen, Yi Zhou, Zuoyin Tang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recommender system is a specific type of intelligent systems, which exploits historical user ratings on items and/or auxiliary information to make recommendations on items to the users. It plays a critical role in a wide range of online shopping, e-commercial services and social networking applications. Collaborative filtering (CF) is the most popular approaches used for recommender systems, but it suffers from complete cold start (CCS) problem where no rating record are available and incomplete cold start (ICS) problem where only a small number of rating records are available for some new items or users in the system. In this paper, we propose two recommendation models to solve the CCS and ICS problems for new items, which are based on a framework of tightly coupled CF approach and deep learning neural network. A specific deep neural network SADE is used to extract the content features of the items. The state of the art CF model, timeSVD++, which models and utilizes temporal dynamics of user preferences and item features, is modified to take the content features into prediction of ratings for cold start items. Extensive experiments on a large Netflix rating dataset of movies are performed, which show that our proposed recommendation models largely outperform the baseline models for rating prediction of cold start items. The two proposed recommendation models are also evaluated and compared on ICS items, and a flexible scheme of model retraining and switching is proposed to deal with the transition of items from cold start to non-cold start status. The experiment results on Netflix movie recommendation show the tight coupling of CF approach and deep learning neural network is feasible and very effective for cold start item recommendation. The design is general and can be applied to many other recommender systems for online shopping and social networking applications. The solution of cold start item problem can largely improve user experience and trust of recommender systems, and effectively promote cold start items.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
Early online date14 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • recommendation system
  • data mining
  • deep learning neural network
  • collaborative filtering
  • cold start problem


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