Recommender systems have achieved great success in modeling user’s preferences on items and predicting the next item the user would consume. Recently, there have been many efforts to utilize time information of users’ interactions with items to capture inherent temporal patterns of user behaviors and offer timely recommendations at a given time. Existing studies regard the time information as a single type of feature and focus on how to associate it with user preferences on items. However, we argue they are insufficient for fully learning the time information because the temporal patterns of user preference are usually heterogeneous. A user’s preference for a particular item may 1) increase periodically or 2) evolve over time under the influence of significant recent events, and each of these two kinds of temporal pattern appears with some unique characteristics. In this paper, we first define the unique characteristics of the two kinds of temporal pattern of user preference that should be considered in time-aware recommender systems. Then we propose a novel recommender system for timely recommendations, called TimelyRec, which jointly learns the heterogeneous temporal patterns of user preference considering all of the defined characteristics. In TimelyRec, a cascade of two encoders captures the temporal patterns of user preference using a proposed attention module for each encoder. Moreover, we introduce an evaluation scenario that evaluates the performance on predicting an interesting item and when to recommend the item simultaneously in top-K recommendation (i.e., item-timing recommendation). Our extensive experiments on a scenario for item recommendation and the proposed scenario for item-timing recommendation on real-world datasets demonstrate the superiority of TimelyRec and the proposed attention modules.

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