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Learnable Embedding sizes for Recommender Systems

Siyi Liu · Chen Gao · Yihong Chen · Depeng Jin · Yong Li

Keywords: [ Embedding Size ] [ recommender systems ] [ deep learning ]


The embedding-based representation learning is commonly used in deep learning recommendation models to map the raw sparse features to dense vectors. The traditional embedding manner that assigns a uniform size to all features has two issues. First, the numerous features inevitably lead to a gigantic embedding table that causes a high memory usage cost. Second, it is likely to cause the over-fitting problem for those features that do not require too large representation capacity. Existing works that try to address the problem always cause a significant drop in recommendation performance or suffers from the limitation of unaffordable training time cost. In this paper, we proposed a novel approach, named PEP (short for Plug-in Embedding Pruning), to reduce the size of the embedding table while avoiding the drop of recommendation accuracy. PEP prunes embedding parameter where the pruning threshold(s) can be adaptively learned from data. Therefore we can automatically obtain a mixed-dimension embedding-scheme by pruning redundant parameters for each feature. PEP is a general framework that can plug in various base recommendation models. Extensive experiments demonstrate it can efficiently cut down embedding parameters and boost the base model's performance. Specifically, it achieves strong recommendation performance while reducing 97-99% parameters. As for the computation cost, PEP only brings an additional 20-30% time cost compare with base models.

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