Abstract: We investigate new methods for training collaborative filtering models based on actor-critic reinforcement learning, to more directly maximize ranking-based objective functions. Specifically, we train a critic network to approximate ranking-based metrics, and then update the actor network to directly optimize against the learned metrics. In contrast to traditional learning-to-rank methods that require re-running the optimization procedure for new lists, our critic-based method amortizes the scoring process with a neural network, and can directly provide the (approximate) ranking scores for new lists. We demonstrate the actor-critic's ability to significantly improve the performance of a variety of prediction models, and achieve better or comparable performance to a variety of strong baselines on three large-scale datasets.

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