Social Choice Theory and Recommender Systems: Analysis of the Axiomatic Foundations of Collaborative Filtering

David M. Pennock, Eric Horvitz, C. Lee Giles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The growth of Internet commerce has stimulated the use of collaborative filtering (CF) algorithms as recommender systems. Such systems leverage knowledge about the behavior of multiple users to recommend items of interest to individual users. CF methods have been harnessed to make recommendations about such items as web pages, movies, books, and toys. Researchers have proposed several variations of the technology. We take the perspective of CF as a methodology for combining preferences. The preferences predicted for the end user is some function of all of the known preferences for everyone in a database. Social Choice theorists, concerned with the properties of voting methods, have been investigating preference aggregation for decades. At the heart of this body of work is Arrow's result demonstrating the impossibility of combining preferences in a way that satisfies several desirable and innocuous-looking properties. We show that researchers working on CF algorithms often make similar assumptions. We elucidate these assumptions and extend results from Social Choice theory to CF methods. We show that only very restrictive CF functions are consistent with desirable aggregation properties. Finally, we discuss practical implications of these results.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 17th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence and 12fth Conference on Innovative Applications ofArtificial Intelligence, AAAI 2000
PublisherAAAI press
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)0262511126, 9780262511124
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes
Event17th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAA1 2000 - Austin, United States
Duration: Jul 30 2000Aug 3 2000

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 17th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence and 12th Conference on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2000


Conference17th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAA1 2000
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software

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