We will first go through some standard recommender system models that use Matrix Factorization and Topic Models and then compare and contrast them with more powerful and higher capacity deep learning based models such as sequence models that use recurrent neural networks. We will show what it entails to build a global model that is aware of regional taste preferences and catalog availability. We will show how models that are built on simple Maximum Likelihood principle fail to do that. We will then describe one solution that we have employed in order to enable the global deep learned models to focus their attention on capturing regional taste preferences and changing catalog.In the latter half of the talk, we will discuss how we do incremental learning of deep learned recommender system models. Why do we need to do that ? Everything changes with time. Users’ tastes change with time. What’s available on Netflix and what’s popular also change over time. Therefore, updating or improving recommendation systems over time is necessary to bring more joy to users. In addition to how we apply incremental learning, we will discuss some of the challenges we face involving large-scale data preparation, infrastructure setup for incremental model training as well as pipeline scheduling. The incremental training enables us to serve fresher models trained on fresher and larger amounts of data. This helps our recommender system to nicely and quickly adapt to catalog and users’ taste changes, and improve overall performance.
At Netflix, our main goal is to maximize our members’ enjoyment of the selected show by minimizing the amount of time it takes for them to find it. We try to achieve this goal by personalizing almost all the aspects of our product — from what shows to recommend, to how to present these shows and construct their home-pages to what images to select per show, among many other things. Everything is recommendations for us and as an applied Machine Learning group, we spend our time building models for personalization that will eventually increase the joy and satisfaction of our members. In this talk we will primarily focus our attention on a) making a global deep learned recommender model that is regional tastes and popularity aware and b) adapting this model to changing taste preferences as well as dynamic catalog availability.