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Incorporating Bias-aware Margins into Contrastive Loss for Collaborative Filtering

An Zhang · Wenchang Ma · Xiang Wang · Tat-Seng Chua

Hall J (level 1) #709

Keywords: [ Popularity Debiasing ] [ Contrastive Loss ] [ Collaborative Filtering ] [ Recommendation ] [ Popularity Bias ]


Collaborative filtering (CF) models easily suffer from popularity bias, which makes recommendation deviate from users’ actual preferences. However, most current debiasing strategies are prone to playing a trade-off game between head and tail performance, thus inevitably degrading the overall recommendation accuracy. To reduce the negative impact of popularity bias on CF models, we incorporate Bias-aware margins into Contrastive loss and propose a simple yet effective BC Loss, where the margin tailors quantitatively to the bias degree of each user-item interaction. We investigate the geometric interpretation of BC loss, then further visualize and theoretically prove that it simultaneously learns better head and tail representations by encouraging the compactness of similar users/items and enlarging the dispersion of dissimilar users/items. Over six benchmark datasets, we use BC loss to optimize two high-performing CF models. In various evaluation settings (i.e., imbalanced/balanced, temporal split, fully-observed unbiased, tail/head test evaluations), BC loss outperforms the state-of-the-art debiasing and non-debiasing methods with remarkable improvements. Considering the theoretical guarantee and empirical success of BC loss, we advocate using it not just as a debiasing strategy, but also as a standard loss in recommender models. Codes are available at

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