NASRec: Weight Sharing Neural Architecture Search for Recommender Systems



The rise of deep neural networks provides an important driver in optimizing recommender systems. However, the success of recommender systems lies in delicate architecture fabrication, and thus calls for Neural Architecture Search (NAS) to further improve its modeling. We propose NASRec, a paradigm that trains a single supernet and efficiently produces abundant models/sub-architectures by weight sharing. To overcome the data multi-modality and architecture heterogeneity challenges in recommendation domain, NASRec establishes a large supernet (i.e., search space) to search the full architectures, with the supernet incorporating versatile operator choices and dense connectivity minimizing human prior for flexibility. The scale and heterogeneity in NASRec impose challenges in search, such as training inefficiency, operator-imbalance, and degraded rank correlation. We tackle these challenges by proposing single-operator any-connection sampling, operator-balancing interaction modules, and post-training fine-tuning. Our results on three Click-Through Rates (CTR) prediction benchmarks show that NASRec can outperform both manually designed models and existing NAS methods, achieving state-of-the-art performance.

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