Off-Policy Evaluation of Ranking Policies under Diverse User Behavior


Ranking interfaces are everywhere in online platforms. There is thus an ever growing interest in their Off-Policy Evaluation (OPE), aiming towards an accurate performance evaluation of ranking policies using logged data. A de-facto approach for OPE is Inverse Propensity Scoring (IPS), which provides an unbiased and consistent value estimate. However, it becomes extremely inaccurate in the ranking setup due to its high variance under large action spaces. To deal with this problem, previous studies assume either independent or cascade user behavior, resulting in some ranking versions of IPS. While these estimators are somewhat effective in reducing the variance, all existing estimators apply a single universal assumption to every user, causing excessive bias and variance. Therefore, this work explores a far more general formulation where user behavior is diverse and can vary depending on the user context. We show that the resulting estimator, which we call Adaptive IPS (AIPS), can be unbiased under any complex user behavior. Moreover, AIPS achieves the minimum variance among all unbiased estimators based on IPS. We further develop a procedure to identify the appropriate user behavior model to minimize the MSE of AIPS in a data-driven fashion. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the empirical accuracy improvement can be significant, enabling effective OPE of ranking systems even under diverse user behavior.

In Proceedings of the 29th SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD) (Acceptance rate=22.3%)
Yuta Saito
Yuta Saito
Third-year CS Ph.D. Student