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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2014, Article ID 123726, 11 pages
Research Article

An Effective Recommender Algorithm for Cold-Start Problem in Academic Social Networks

1Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3Department of Computer Science, Chalous Branch, Islamic Azad University (IAU), Chalous 46615-397, Iran

Received 22 January 2014; Accepted 30 January 2014; Published 18 March 2014

Academic Editor: Gerhard-Wilhelm Weber

Copyright © 2014 Vala Ali Rohani et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Abundance of information in recent years has become a serious challenge for web users. Recommender systems (RSs) have been often utilized to alleviate this issue. RSs prune large information spaces to recommend the most relevant items to users by considering their preferences. Nonetheless, in situations where users or items have few opinions, the recommendations cannot be made properly. This notable shortcoming in practical RSs is called cold-start problem. In the present study, we propose a novel approach to address this problem by incorporating social networking features. Coined as enhanced content-based algorithm using social networking (ECSN), the proposed algorithm considers the submitted ratings of faculty mates and friends besides user’s own preferences. The effectiveness of ECSN algorithm was evaluated by implementing it in MyExpert, a newly designed academic social network (ASN) for academics in Malaysia. Real feedbacks from live interactions of MyExpert users with the recommended items are recorded for 12 consecutive weeks in which four different algorithms, namely, random, collaborative, content-based, and ECSN were applied every three weeks. The empirical results show significant performance of ECSN in mitigating the cold-start problem besides improving the prediction accuracy of recommendations when compared with other studied recommender algorithms.