On Scalability of Association-rule-based Recommendation

Zhiang Wu, Changsheng Li, Jie Cao, Yong Ge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The association-rule-based approach is one of the most common technologies for building recommender systems and it has been extensively adopted for commercial use. A variety of techniques, mainly including eligible rule selection and multiple rules combination, have been developed to create effective recommendation. Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to the scalability concern of rule-based recommendation methods. However, the computational complexity of rule-based methods shall increase drastically with the growth of both online customers and rules, which are usually several millions in typical e-commerce platforms. Moreover, the dynamic change of users' actions requires rule-based methods make recommendations in nearly real-time, which further highlights the scalability issue of rule-based recommender systems. In this article, we present a distributed framework that can scale different association-rule-based recommendation methods in a unified way. Specifically, based on the summarization of existing rule-based approaches, a generic tree-type structure is defined to store separate kinds of patterns, and an efficient algorithm is designed for mining eligible patterns along with computing recommendation scores. To handle the ever-increasing number of online customers, a distributed framework is proposed, where two load-balanced strategies for partitioning tree are put forward to fit sparse and dense data, respectively. Extensive experiments on five real-life data sets demonstrate that the efficiency of association-rule-based recommender systems can be significantly improved by the proposed framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalACM Transactions on the Web
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Recommender system
  • association rule
  • distributed computing
  • frequent pattern
  • load balanced partitioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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