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Research on power-law distribution of long-tail data and its application to tourism recommendation

Xiang Chen (School of Management and Economics, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China)
Yaohui Pan (College of Economics and Management, China Jiliang University, Hangzhou, China)
Bin Luo (School of Management and Economics, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 18 May 2020

Issue publication date: 7 June 2021




One challenge for tourism recommendation systems (TRSs) is the long-tail phenomenon of ratings or popularity among tourist products. This paper aims to improve the diversity and efficiency of TRSs utilizing the power-law distribution of long-tail data.


Using Sina Weibo check-in data for example, this paper demonstrates that the long-tail phenomenon exists in user travel behaviors and fits the long-tail travel data with power-law distribution. To solve data sparsity in the long-tail part and increase recommendation diversity of TRSs, the paper proposes a collaborative filtering (CF) recommendation algorithm combining with power-law distribution. Furthermore, by combining power-law distribution with locality sensitive hashing (LSH), the paper optimizes user similarity calculation to improve the calculation efficiency of TRSs.


The comparison experiments show that the proposed algorithm greatly improves the recommendation diversity and calculation efficiency while maintaining high precision and recall of recommendation, providing basis for further dynamic recommendation.


TRSs provide a better solution to the problem of information overload in the tourism field. However, based on the historical travel data over the whole population, most current TRSs tend to recommend hot and similar spots to users, lacking in diversity and failing to provide personalized recommendations. Meanwhile, the large high-dimensional sparse data in online social networks (OSNs) brings huge computational cost when calculating user similarity with traditional CF algorithms. In this paper, by integrating the power-law distribution of travel data and tourism recommendation technology, the authors’ work solves the problem existing in traditional TRSs that recommendation results are overly narrow and lack in serendipity, and provides users with a wider range of choices and hence improves user experience in TRSs. Meanwhile, utilizing locality sensitive hash functions, the authors’ work hashes users from high-dimensional vectors to one-dimensional integers and maps similar users into the same buckets, which realizes fast nearest neighbors search in high-dimensional space and solves the extreme sparsity problem of high dimensional travel data. Furthermore, applying the hashing results to user similarity calculation, the paper greatly reduces computational complexity and improves calculation efficiency of TRSs, which reduces the system load and enables TRSs to provide effective and timely recommendations for users.



Chen, X., Pan, Y. and Luo, B. (2021), "Research on power-law distribution of long-tail data and its application to tourism recommendation", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 121 No. 6, pp. 1268-1286.



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