In both mobile and web applications, speeding up user interface response times can often lead to significant improvements in user engagement. A common technique to improve responsiveness is to precompute data ahead of time for specific features. However, simply precomputing data for all user and feature combinations is prohibitive at scale due to both network constraints and server-side computational costs. It is therefore important to accurately predict per-user feature usage in order to minimize wasted precomputation ("predictive precompute''). In this paper, we describe the novel application of recurrent neural networks (RNNs) for predictive precompute. We compare their performance with traditional machine learning models, and share findings from their use in a billion-user scale production environment at Facebook. We demonstrate that RNN models improve prediction accuracy, eliminate most feature engineering steps, and reduce the computational cost of serving predictions by an order of magnitude.
Speakers: Hanson Wang