Mix ‘n Match: Integrating Text Matching and Product Substitutability within Product Search by Christophe Van Gysel, Maarten de Rijke, and Evangelos Kanoulas is available online now at this location.

Two products are substitutes if both can satisfy the same consumer need. Intrinsic incorporation of product substitutability—where substitutability is integrated within latent vector space models—is in contrast to the extrinsic re-ranking of result lists. The fusion of text matching and product substitutability objectives allows latent vector space models to mix and match regularities contained within text descriptions and substitution relations. We introduce a method for intrinsically incorporating product substitutability within latent vector space models for product search that are estimated using gradient descent; it integrates flawlessly with state-of-the-art vector space models. We compare our method to existing methods for incorporating structural entity relations, where product substitutability is incorporated extrinsically by re-ranking. Our method outperforms the best extrinsic method on four benchmarks. We investigate the effect of different levels of text matching and product similarity objectives, and provide an analysis of the effect of incorporating product substitutability on product search ranking diversity. Incorporating product substitutability information improves search relevance at the cost of diversity.

The paper will be presented at CIKM 2018 in October 2018.