Generate Neural Template Explanations for Recommendation

Lei Li, Yongfeng Zhang, Li Chen

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Personalized recommender systems are important to assist user decision-making in the era of information overload. Meanwhile, explanations of the recommendations further help users to better understand the recommended items so as to make informed choices, which gives rise to the importance of explainable recommendation research. Textual sentence-based explanation has been an important form of explanations for recommender systems due to its advantage in communicating rich information to users. However, current approaches to generating sentence explanations are either limited to predefined sentence templates, which restricts the sentence expressiveness, or opt for free-style sentence generation, which makes it difficult for sentence quality control. In an attempt to benefit both sentence expressiveness and quality, we propose a Neural Template (NETE) explanation generation framework, which brings the best of both worlds by learning sentence templates from data and generating template-controlled sentences that comment about specific features. Experimental results on real-world datasets show that NETE consistently outperforms state-of-the-art explanation generation approaches in terms of sentence quality and expressiveness. Further analysis on case study also shows the advantages of NETE on generating diverse and controllable explanations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCIKM 2020 - Proceedings of the 29th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450368599
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2020
Event29th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, CIKM 2020 - Virtual, Online, Ireland
Duration: 19 Oct 202023 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, Proceedings


Conference29th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, CIKM 2020
CityVirtual, Online

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Decision Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • explainable recommendation
  • natural language generation
  • neural template explanation
  • recommender systems


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