Recommender System Metrics — Clearly Explained

Recommender System Metrics — Clearly Explained

In this post, we will be discussing evaluation metrics for recommender systems and try to clearly explain them. But before that let’s understand the recommender system in short.

In this post, we will be discussing evaluation metrics for recommender systems and try to clearly explain them. But before that let’s understand the recommender system in short.

recommender system is an algorithm that provides recommendations to users based on their historical preferences/ tastes. Nowadays, recommendation systems are used abundantly in our everyday interactions with apps and sites. For example, Amazon is using them to recommend products, Spotify to recommend music, YouTube to recommend videos, Netflix to recommend movies.

The quality of the recommendations is based on how relevant they are to the users and also they need to be interesting. When the recommendations are too obvious, they are not useful and mundane. For the relevancy of recommendation, we use metrics like _recall _and _precision. _For the latter (serendipity) metrics like _diversity, coverage, serendipity, _and _novelty _are used. We will be exploring the relevancy metrics here, for the metrics of serendipity, please have a look at this post: Recommender Systems — It’s Not All About the Accuracy.


Let’s say that there are some users and some items, like movies, songs, or products. Each user might be interested in some items. We recommend a few items (the number is k) for each user. Now, how will you find whether our recommendations to every user were efficient?

In a classification problem, we usually use the precision and recall evaluation metrics. Similarly, for recommender systems, we use a mix of precision and recall — Mean Average Precision (MAP) metric, specifically *[email protected], *where k recommendations are provided.

Let’s explain MAP, so the M is just an average (mean) of APs, average precision, of all users. In other words, we take the mean for average precision, hence Mean Average Precision. If we have 1000 users, we sum APs for each user and divide the sum by 1000. This is the MAP.

So now, what is average precision? Before that let’s understand recall (r)and precision (P).

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Precision

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Recall

There is usually an inverse relationship between recall and precision. Precision is concerned about how many recommendations are relevant among the provided recommendations. Recall is concerned about how many recommendations are provided among all the relevant recommendations.

Let’s understand the definitions of [email protected] and [email protected], assume we are providing 5 recommendations in this order — 1 0 1 0 1, where 1 represents relevant and 0 irrelevant. So the [email protected] at different values of k will be [email protected] is 2/3, [email protected] is 2/4, and [email protected] is 3/5. The [email protected] would be, [email protected] is 2/3, [email protected] is 2/3, and [email protected] is 3/3.

So we don’t really need to understand average precision (AP). But we need to know this:

  • we can recommend at most k items for each user
  • it is better to submit all k recommendations because we are not penalized for bad guesses
  • order matters, so it’s better to submit more certain recommendations first, followed by recommendations we are less sure about

recommendation-system artificial-intelligence evaluation-metric machine-learning data-science

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