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Retrospective Higher-Order Markov Processes for User Trails

Abstract · Apr 20, 2017 02:14 ·

rhomp chain grows states markov history chains order higher cs-si cs-lg stat-ml

Arxiv Abstract

  • Tao Wu
  • David Gleich

Users form information trails as they browse the web, checkin with a geolocation, rate items, or consume media. A common problem is to predict what a user might do next for the purposes of guidance, recommendation, or prefetching. First-order and higher-order Markov chains have been widely used methods to study such sequences of data. First-order Markov chains are easy to estimate, but lack accuracy when history matters. Higher-order Markov chains, in contrast, have too many parameters and suffer from overfitting the training data. Fitting these parameters with regularization and smoothing only offers mild improvements. In this paper we propose the retrospective higher-order Markov process (RHOMP) as a low-parameter model for such sequences. This model is a special case of a higher-order Markov chain where the transitions depend retrospectively on a single history state instead of an arbitrary combination of history states. There are two immediate computational advantages: the number of parameters is linear in the order of the Markov chain and the model can be fit to large state spaces. Furthermore, by providing a specific structure to the higher-order chain, RHOMPs improve the model accuracy by efficiently utilizing history states without risks of overfitting the data. We demonstrate how to estimate a RHOMP from data and we demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on various real application datasets spanning geolocation data, review sequences, and business locations. The RHOMP model uniformly outperforms higher-order Markov chains, Kneser-Ney regularization, and tensor factorizations in terms of prediction accuracy.

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