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Automatic Unbiased Learning to Rank from Unbiased Propensity Estimation

posted Apr 17, 2018, 2:10 PM by Qingyao Ai   [ updated Apr 26, 2018, 4:45 PM ]
Learning to rank with biased click data is a well-known challenge. A variety of methods has been explored to debias click data for learning to rank such as click models, result interleaving and, more recently, the unbiased learning-to-rank framework based on inverse propensity weighting. 
Despite their differences, most existing studies separate the estimation of click bias (namely the propensity model) from the learning of ranking algorithms. To estimate click propensities, they either conduct online result randomization, which can negatively affect the user experience, or offline parameter estimation, which has special requirements for click data and is optimized for objectives (e.g. click likelihood) that are not directly related to the ranking performance of the system. In this work, we propose a Dual Learning Algorithm (DLA) that jointly learns an unbiased ranker and an unbiased propensity model. DLA is an automatic unbiased learning-to-rank framework as it directly learns unbiased ranking models from biased click data without any preprocessing. It can adapt to the change of bias distributions and is applicable to online learning. [SIGIR'18] [code]