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[Computational Complexity] When good recommender systems go bad!

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  • GASARCH
    Lance brought up the question of amazon giving bad or odd here. The oddest pointer to an item I might want is as follows. I bought a novelty CD by a group
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 27 11:37 AM
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      Lance brought up the question of amazon giving bad or odd here. The oddest pointer to an item I might want is as follows.

      I bought a novelty CD by a group called Throwing Toasters (it was very good). I then was asked by amazone Do you want to buy a toaster? and got a pointer to home applicances.

      Why did it make that association? Asking various computer people I got three answers. The only thing they had in common was that everyone was sure they were right.
      1. When many people buy an item the amazon software can do a reasonable data mining and make intelligent guesses about what groups of items go together. However, since this item was probably not bought by many people, it does a random word search algorithm instead.
      2. Of the few few people who bought this item before, some of them did buy toasters as well! So if only 4 other people bought this item, but 1 of them also bought a toaster, then WOW- 1/4 of all people who bought this item bought toasters, so its worth inquiring if the current purchaser wants one.
      3. Its a programming bug.
      I don't know which one it is, but I'd like to know.

      --
      Posted By GASARCH to Computational Complexity at 2/27/2008 01:33:00 PM
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