Monday, July 15, 2013

Given Name Recommendations in Nameling

Today, we'll report on the name search platform Nameling - another system which is run at the KDE research group and which regular readers of our blog are probably already familiar with (Discover Names, 20DC13 - The ECML PKDD Discovery Challenge 2013 on Recommending Given Names ).

Its been a while (more than a year) that Nameling has been running stable without any code updates, but meanwhile we weren't idle and wrote some papers about the task of finding similar names by means of analyzing name relatedness based on data from the social web ([1], [2]) and how these statically derived name similarities actually fit to the users' search activities in the running system ([3]). We also considered the task of personalized name recommendations ([4]) which is also the task of the 15th ECML PKDD Discovery Challenge, organized by members of the KDE research group at the university of Kassel, the Data Mining and Information Retrieval Group at the university of Würzburg and the Institut für Verteilte Systeme - Fachgebiet Wissensbasierte Systeme at the Leibniz Universität Hannover (see also our previous blog post).

Now, we integrate given name recommendations in the running Nameling system (you can already get a glimpse at the new recommendation features by visiting Namelings beta version). Firstly, on the fly name recommendations, based on a user's search profile are shown on almost every query page in Nameling (e.g., look at the sidebar while looking for similar names of the given name "Emma").

Via the navigation buttons below the list of recommended names, you can browse through even more recommdations (arrows), or request other recommended names (recycle).

And this is the clue: For the next two months, these name recommendations are provided by participants of the 20DC13 Online Challenge. That is, every recommendation request is anonymously passed to each recommender system of the 20DC13 participants. For each user in Nameling, a randomly chosen system is selected for actually displaying name recommendations. But whenever a user presses the recycle button, this association is changed.

But you can also explicitly ask Nameling for name recommendations, relative to a list of names you like (e.g., the future parents' given names)

By clicking on the '+' and '-' signs, you can add a name to your name recommendation query or, respectively, permanently ban a name from your result views. Of course, you can still add each name to your personal list of favourite names and explore a names neighbourhood. Additionally we added the feature of automatically determining your current location (by clicking on the 'satellite dish'), which allows to improve your name recommendations based on your geographic background.

There is an ongoing debate in the recommender system community, concerning the online vs. offline evaluation of recommender systems. Nameling's name recommendation back-end is designed for easy integration of new recommender systems, which may even reside on servers of affiliate research groups (e.g. participants of the online challenge). The performance of a recommender system is then evaluated relative to actual user interactions with the displayed names (e.g. by counting the number of names which were added to the list of favourite names). These feedback information is also (anonymously) passed to the included recommender systems, so that these systems can adopt and improve their recommendations accordingly.

If you are working on recommender systems and are interested in testing your system in a live setting, feel free to contact us. You only have to implement a simple Java interface or a simple Python interface. If you manage to set up a running recommender system within the next ten days (until July 22nd), you may even take part in the 20DC13 online recommender challenge.

In any case: Keep on tagging and happy number crunching!

Your 20DC13 Team
Stephan, Andreas, Robert, Folke & Juergen

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