System and method for recommending items in a social network

Stéphane Caron, Branislav Kveton, Marc Lelarge and Smriti Bhagat. US Patent Application US-20150199715-A1.


I'm not proud of this software patent application. The patent system stems from a laudable principle: incenting companies to disclose technological knowledge, lest it is lost if the company shuts down. Yet patent systems have turned into an arms race where companies files both "offensive" and "defensive" patents in preparation for or to prevent lawsuits. Not to mention the long-running issue of patent trolls. This war is not about technological advancement, which it mostly harms, but about monopoly consolidation. Open source licenses provide a high-tech détente out of this.


The present principles consider stochastic bandits with side observations, a model that accounts for both the exploration/exploitation dilemma and relationships between arms. In this setting, after pulling an arm i, the decision maker also observes the rewards for some other actions related to i. The present principles provide a method and a system for efficiently leveraging additional information based on the responses provided by other users connected to the user via a computerized social network and derive new bounds improving on standard regret guarantees. We will see that this model is suited to content recommendation in social networks, where users' reactions may be endorsed or not by their friends.


  title = {System and method for recommending items in a social network},
  author = {St{\'e}phane Caron and Branislav Kveton and Marc Lelarge and Smriti Bhagat},
  year = {2015},
  month = jul,
  note = {US Patent App. 14/411,856},
  url = {},


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