Recommender-Systems Text Books

If you are new to recommender systems, a text-book may be a good starting point. We would particularly recommend the following three textbooks. Book descriptions are from Amazon, sometimes extended by our own comments.

Recommender Systems Handbook (2nd edt.; 2015)

The third edition (2022) has just been published by Springer.

Written/Edited by Francesco Ricci, Lior Rokach, Bracha Shapira who are some of the most renowned researchers in the community, with Francesco Ricci being e.g. on the steering committee of the ACM Conference on Recommender Systems.

This second edition of a well-received text, with 20 new chapters, presents a coherent and unified repository of recommender systems’ major concepts, theories, methodologies, trends, and challenges. A variety of real-world applications and detailed case studies are included. In addition to wholesale revision of the existing chapters, this edition includes new topics including: decision making and recommender systems, reciprocal recommender systems, recommender systems in social networks, mobile recommender systems, explanations for recommender systems, music recommender systems, cross-domain recommendations, privacy in recommender systems, and semantic-based recommender systems. This multi-disciplinary handbook involves world-wide experts from diverse fields such as artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, information retrieval, data mining, mathematics, statistics, adaptive user interfaces, decision support systems, psychology, marketing, and consumer behavior. Theoreticians and practitioners from these fields will find this reference to be an invaluable source of ideas, methods and techniques for developing more efficient, cost-effective and accurate recommender systems.

Recommender Systems: An Introduction (2010)

Written by some of the most distinguished professors in the recommender-system community, namely Dietmar Jannach, Markus Zanker, Alexander Felfernig, and Gerhard Friedrich, with the first three authors all being on the steering committee of the ACM Conference on Recommender Systems. Even though the book is a bit outdated (from 2010) it still covers all the basics and is a worthwhile read. Auxiliary materials such as lecture slides for the book are available on

In this age of information overload, people use a variety of strategies to make choices about what to buy, how to spend their leisure time, and even whom to date. Recommender systems automate some of these strategies with the goal of providing affordable, personal, and high-quality recommendations. This book offers an overview of approaches to developing state-of-the-art recommender systems. The authors present current algorithmic approaches for generating personalized buying proposals, such as collaborative and content-based filtering, as well as more interactive and knowledge-based approaches. They also discuss how to measure the effectiveness of recommender systems and illustrate the methods with practical case studies. The final chapters cover emerging topics such as recommender systems in the social web and consumer buying behavior theory. Suitable for computer science researchers and students interested in getting an overview of the field, this book will also be useful for professionals looking for the right technology to build real-world recommender systems.

Recommender Systems: The Textbook (2016)

Written by Charu C. Aggarwal who is not as well known in the (academic) community as the authors of the previous two books. However, he has a strong recommender-systems industry background, working at IBM, and being the author of numerous books relating to deep learning and data mining. For more details on the author see

This book comprehensively covers the topic of recommender systems, which provide personalized recommendations of products or services to users based on their previous searches or purchases. Recommender system methods have been adapted to diverse applications including query log mining, social networking, news recommendations, and computational advertising. This book synthesizes both fundamental and advanced topics of a research area that has now reached maturity.  The chapters of this book are organized into three categories: 1. Algorithms and evaluation:  These chapters discuss the fundamental algorithms in recommender systems, including collaborative filtering methods, content-based methods, knowledge-based methods, ensemble-based methods, and evaluation. 2. Recommendations in specific domains and contexts: the context of a recommendation can be viewed as important side information that affects the recommendation goals. Different types of context such as temporal data, spatial data, social data, tagging data, and trustworthiness are explored. 3. Advanced topics and applications:  Various robustness aspects of recommender systems, such as shilling systems, attack models, and their defenses are discussed. In addition, recent topics, such as learning to rank, multi-armed bandits, group systems, multi-criteria systems, and active learning systems, are introduced together with applications. Although this book primarily serves as a textbook, it will also appeal to industrial practitioners and researchers due to its focus on applications and references. Numerous examples and exercises have been provided, and a solution manual is available for instructors.

There are numerous more books on recommender systems as outlined in the remainder.

Practical Recommender Systems (2019)

Kim Falk
Online recommender systems help users find movies, jobs, restaurants-even romance! There’s an art in combining statistics, demographics, and query terms to achieve results that will delight them. Learn to build a recommender system the right way: it can make or break your application! Purchase of the print book includes a free eBook in PDF, Kindle, and ePub formats from Manning Publications. Recommender systems are everywhere, helping you find everything from movies to jobs, restaurants to hospitals, even romance. Using behavioral and demographic data, these systems make predictions about what users will be most interested in at a particular time, resulting in high-quality, ordered, personalized suggestions. Recommender systems are practically a necessity for keeping your site content current, useful, and interesting to your visitors.

Hands-On Recommendation Systems with Python: Start building powerful and personalized, recommendation engines with Python (2018)

Rounak Banik
Recommendation systems are at the heart of almost every internet business today; from Facebook to Netflix to Amazon. Providing good recommendations, whether it’s friends, movies, or groceries, goes a long way in defining user experience and enticing your customers to use your platform. This book shows you how to do just that. You will learn about the different kinds of recommenders used in the industry and see how to build them from scratch using Python. No need to wade through tons of machine learning theory—you’ll get started with building and learning about recommenders as quickly as possible. In this book, you will build an IMDB Top 250 clone, a content-based engine that works on movie metadata. You’ll use collaborative filters to make use of customer behavior data, and a Hybrid Recommender that incorporates content based and collaborative filtering techniques. With this book, all you need to get started with building recommendation systems is a familiarity with Python, and by the time you’re finished, you will have a great grasp of how recommenders work and be in a strong position to apply the techniques that you will learn to your own problem domains.

Building Recommender Systems with Machine Learning and AI: Help people discover new products and content with deep learning, neural networks, and machine learning recommendations (2018)

Building Recommender Systems with Machine Learning and AI: Help people discover new products and content with deep learning, neural networks, and machine learning recommendations. by [Frank Kane]

Frank Kane
Learn how to build recommender systems from one of Amazon’s pioneers in the field. Frank Kane spent over nine years at Amazon, where he managed and led the development of many of Amazon’s personalized product recommendation technologies. You’ve seen automated recommendations everywhere – on Netflix’s home page, on YouTube, and on Amazon as these machine learning algorithms learn about your unique interests, and show the best products or content for you as an individual. These technologies have become central to the largest, most prestigious tech employers out there, and by understanding how they work, you’ll become very valuable to them. This book is adapted from Frank’s popular online course published by Sundog Education, so you can expect lots of visual aids from its slides and a conversational, accessible tone throughout the book. The graphics and scripts from over 300 slides are included, and you’ll have access to all of the source code associated with it as well. We’ll cover tried and true recommendation algorithms based on neighborhood-based collaborative filtering, and work our way up to more modern techniques including matrix factorization and even deep learning with artificial neural networks. Along the way, you’ll learn from Frank’s extensive industry experience to understand the real-world challenges you’ll encounter when applying these algorithms at large scale and with real-world data. This book is very hands-on; you’ll develop your own framework for evaluating and combining many different recommendation algorithms together, and you’ll even build your own neural networks using Tensorflow to generate recommendations from real-world movie ratings from real people.

The author, Frank Kane, spent 9 years at Amazon and IMDb, developing and managing the technology that automatically delivers product and movie recommendations to hundreds of millions of customers, all the time. Frank holds 17 issued patents in the fields of distributed computing, data mining, and machine learning. In 2012, Frank left to start his own successful company, Sundog Software, which focuses on virtual reality environment technology. In 2016, he created Sundog Education, which offers popular online courses in the fields of data science, machine learning, data streaming, and “big data”. Over 150,000 students worldwide have enrolled in Frank’s courses.

Recommendation Engines (2020)

How companies like Amazon and Netflix know what “you might also like”: the history, technology, business, and social impact of online recommendation engines. Increasingly, our technologies are giving us better, faster, smarter, and more personal advice than our own families and best friends. Amazon already knows what kind of books and household goods you like and is more than eager to recommend more; YouTube and TikTok always have another video lined up to show you; Netflix has crunched the numbers of your viewing habits to suggest whole genres that you would enjoy. In this volume in the MIT Press’s Essential Knowledge series, innovation expert Michael Schrage explains the origins, technologies, business applications, and increasing societal impact of recommendation engines, the systems that allow companies worldwide to know what products, services, and experiences “you might also like.” Schrage offers a history of recommendation that reaches back to antiquity’s oracles and astrologers; recounts the academic origins and commercial evolution of recommendation engines; explains how these systems work, discussing key mathematical insights, including the impact of machine learning and deep learning algorithms; and highlights user experience design challenges. He offers brief but incisive case studies of the digital music service Spotify; ByteDance, the owner of TikTok; and the online personal stylist Stitch Fix. Finally, Schrage considers the future of technological recommenders: Will they leave us disappointed and dependent—or will they help us discover the world and ourselves in novel and serendipitous ways?

Machine Learning with PySpark: With Natural Language Processing and Recommender Systems (2018)

Pramod Singh
Build machine learning models, natural language processing applications, and recommender systems with PySpark to solve various business challenges. This book starts with the fundamentals of Spark and its evolution and then covers the entire spectrum of traditional machine learning algorithms along with natural language processing and recommender systems using PySpark. 
Machine Learning with PySpark shows you how to build supervised machine learning models such as linear regression, logistic regression, decision trees, and random forest. You’ll also see unsupervised machine learning models such as K-means and hierarchical clustering. A major portion of the book focuses on feature engineering to create useful features with PySpark to train the machine learning models. The natural language processing section covers text processing, text mining, and embedding for classification.  After reading this book, you will understand how to use PySpark’s machine learning library to build and train various machine learning models. Additionally you’ll become comfortable with related PySpark components, such as data ingestion, data processing, and data analysis, that you can use to develop data-driven intelligent applications.

Statistical Methods for Recommender Systems (2016)

Deepak K Agarwal, Bee-Chung Chen
Designing algorithms to recommend items such as news articles and movies to users is a challenging task in numerous web applications. The crux of the problem is to rank items based on users’ responses to different items to optimize for multiple objectives. Major technical challenges are high dimensional prediction with sparse data and constructing high dimensional sequential designs to collect data for user modeling and system design. This comprehensive treatment of the statistical issues that arise in recommender systems includes detailed, in-depth discussions of current state-of-the-art methods such as adaptive sequential designs (multi-armed bandit methods), bilinear random-effects models (matrix factorization) and scalable model fitting using modern computing paradigms like MapReduce. The authors draw upon their vast experience working with such large-scale systems at Yahoo! and LinkedIn, and bridge the gap between theory and practice by illustrating complex concepts with examples from applications they are directly involved with.

News About Recommender-Systems Text Books

Recommender Systems Handbook (3rd Edition, 2022)

The third edition of the Recommender Systems Handbook has just been published by Springer. The editors are Francesco Ricci, Lior Rokach, and Bracha Shapira. The previous edition was (and is) one of the most popular books on recommender systems. As such, the third edition certainly will also be a worthwhile read. The “Recommender Systems Handbook” […]

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TechCrunch publishes an excerpt from ‘Attention Factory: The Story of TikTok and China’s ByteDance’

Matthew Brennan and Rita Liao from TechCrunch publish an excerpt from the book Attention Factory: The Story of TikTok and China’s ByteDance. Given that the recommender system of TikTok is considered one of its major success factors, the excerpt may be interesting for some readers of RS_c (though the excerpt has not a lot of […]

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“Recommendation Engines”, a new book on recommender systems by Michael Schrage

There is a new textbook on recommender systems, titled simply “Recommendation Engines“. The author is Michael Schrage. He has a business background and, to the best of my knowledge, no particular research or tech background. The book is published in the MIT ‘Essential Knowledge’ series and sold for $15.95. The summary of the book is […]

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New Book: “Trustworthy Online Controlled Experiments — A Practical Guide to A/B Testing”

The recommender-system (research) community heavily relies on offline evaluations. While I personally always advocated the use of large-scale online studies and A/B tests, conducting these is arguably difficult, time-intensive, and sometimes simply impossible if a researcher has no access to (many) real users. For those who do have access to a large number of users, […]

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