AN OVERBROAD PATENT ON providing recommendations based on relative preferences across items for a customer. - This application from MIT seeks to patent the idea of...identifying a relative preference list of all users, comparing a user's relative preference list with the canonical preference list, and inferring preferences of the user on the basis of comparison with other users. 10 minutes of your time can help narrow US patent applications before they become patents. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before 8/29/2011 that discusses:

  • Providing a personalized recommendation to a user regarding items that the user has not ranked.

If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question. We welcome multiple answers from the same individual.

EXTRA CREDIT - A user's preference is identified based on pair-wise preferences of items.

TITLE: Determining preferences of a user based on comparative rating across items.

Summary: [Translated from Legalese into English] Comparing preference of a user with identified preferences of all users and inferring preference of the user based on a correlation factor between the user preference and each of the identified preferences.

  • Publication Number: US 20130054498 A1
  • Application Number: US 13/598,124
  • Assignee: MIT
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating 8/29/2011
  • Link to Google Prior Art Search - "Find Prior Art"

Claim 1 requires each and every step below:

A method for inferring the preferences of a user in relation to a population, comprising the steps of:

  1. identifying a preference distribution of said population comprising a plurality of ranked lists and a weight of each of said plurality of ranked lists;

  2. comparing a revealed preference of said user to one of said plurality of ranked lists;

  3. assigning an affinity weight between said user and each of said plurality of ranked lists; and

  4. taking a weighted average of each of said affinity weights.

In English this means:

A method for inferring preferences of a user, the method comprises the following steps:

  1. identifying preferences of all users over a number of choices;

  2. comparing preferences of the user with each of the identified preferences;

  3. assigning a correlation factor between the user preferences and each of the identified preferences; and

  4. averaging the assigned correlation factors to infer preferences of the user.

Good prior art would be evidence of a system that did each and every one of these steps prior to 8/29/2011

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming A preference list providing comparisons between every pair of items for a user is represented by a comparison matrix indexed by i and j, where entry (i, j) is set to 1 if item i is preferred to item j, and 0 otherwise.

"Providing recommendations based on pair-wise comparison of items."

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3 Answers 3


This book was published in 2007: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596529321.do Chapter 2 seems to cover much of this patent, specifically Collecting Preferences, finding similar uses, recommending items and matching products


The term "aggregating preferences" comes to mind., e.g., http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~tw/prvwjlc08.pdf


How about March 1999 - US Patent 7,962,367

"As shown in FIG. 4 the present invention may include, but does not have to include, a user preference monitoring program."

"The preferences may comprise a list of the type of products that the user has purchased and the frequency of those purchases."

"For example, a user that has a preference for company X's products may have an interactive banner placed in the product screen to assist the user is identifying the type of product they would like to purchase from Company X."

"As shown in FIG. 8, a statistical database 200 can be maintained that correlates products and manufactures 201 with hits, purchases, product returns and other data 202. Statistical data can be retrieved from the statistical database in a variety of ways. Individual product statistics can be provided for a given product or supplier. In addition, statistics can be generated comparing a product or manufacturer to competing products or manufacturers. Mean statistical information can be generated and used to compare the relative performance of a given product or company."

"Internal hits may be compared to establish trends, such as preferred products, types of products or vendors. Internal hits for each vendor as a function of the total hits for the web site may also be generated. This information may be selectively shared with the product vendors to assist in effectively advertising or placing their products."

Your matrix table is shown in Figure 8.

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