Discovering Personalized Semantics for Soft Attributes in Recommender Systems using Concept Activation Vectors


We develop a framework to represent natural language attributes in a learned embedding space. This allows us to leverage open-ended user feedback to improve recommendations.

The Web Conference

Interactive recommender systems (RSs) allow users to express intent, preferences and contexts in a rich fashion, often using natural language. One challenge in using such feedback is inferring a user’s semantic intent from the open-ended terms used to describe an item, and using it to refine recommendation results. Leveraging concept activation vectors (CAVs), we develop a framework to learn a representation that captures the semantics of such attributes and connects them to user preferences and behaviors in RSs. A novel feature of our approach is its ability to distinguish objective and subjective attributes and associate different senses with different users. Using synthetic and real-world datasets, we show that our CAV representation accurately interprets users’ subjective semantics, and can improve recommendations via interactive critiquing.