Search engines train and apply a single ranking model across all users, but searchers’ information needs are diverse and cover a broad range of topics. Hence, a single user-independent ranking model is insufficient to satisfy different users’ result preferences. Conventional personalization methods learn separate models of user interests and use those to re-rank the results from the generic model. Those methods require significant user history information to learn user preferences, have low coverage in the case of memory-based methods that learn direct associations between query-URL pairs, and have limited opportunity to markedly affect the ranking given that they only re-order top-ranked items.

In this paper, we propose a general ranking model adaptation framework for personalized search. Using a given user-independent ranking model trained offline and limited number of adaptation queries from individual users, the framework quickly learns to apply a series of linear transformations, e.g., scaling and shifting, over the parameters of the given global ranking model such that the adapted model can better fit each individual user’s search preferences. Extensive experimentation based on a large set of search logs from a major commercial Web search engine confirms the effectiveness of the proposed method compared to several state-of-the-art ranking model adaptation methods.