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  • We analyzed transaction logs containing 51,473 queries posed by 18,113 users of Excite, a major Internet search service. We provide data on: (i) sessions — changes in queries during a session, number of pages viewed, and use of relevance feedback; (ii) queries — the number of search terms, and the use of logic and modifiers; and (iii) terms — their rank/frequency distribution and the most highly used search terms. We then shift the focus of analysis from the query to the user to gain insight to the characteristics of the Web user. With these characteristics as a basis, we then conducted a failure analysis, identifying trends among user mistakes. We conclude with a summary of findings and a discussion of the implications of these findings.

  • This paper presents an approach to automatically optimizing the retrieval quality of search engines using clickthrough data. Intuitively, a good information retrieval system should present relevant documents high in the ranking, with less relevant documents following below. While previous approaches to learning retrieval functions from examples exist, they typically require training data generated from relevance judgments by experts. This makes them difficult and expensive to apply. The goal of this paper is to develop a method that utilizes clickthrough data for training, namely the query-log of the search engine in connection with the log of links the users clicked on in the presented ranking. Such clickthrough data is available in abundance and can be recorded at very low cost. Taking a Support Vector Machine (SVM) approach, this paper presents a method for learning retrieval functions. From a theoretical perspective, this method is shown to be well-founded in a risk minimization framework. Furthermore, it is shown to be feasible even for large sets of queries and features. The theoretical results are verified in a controlled experiment. It shows that the method can effectively adapt the retrieval function of a meta-search engine to a particular group of users, outperforming Google in terms of retrieval quality after only a couple of hundred training examples.

  • Learning to rank for Information Retrieval (IR) is a task to automatically construct a ranking model using training data, such that the model can sort new objects according to their degrees of relevance, preference, or importance. Many IR problems are by nature ranking problems, and many IR technologies can be potentially enhanced by using learning-to-rank techniques. The objective of this tutorial is to give an introduction to this research direction. Specifically, the existing learning-to-rank algorithms are reviewed and categorized into three approaches: the pointwise, pairwise, and listwise approaches. The advantages and disadvantages with each approach are analyzed, and the relationships between the loss functions used in these approaches and IR evaluation measures are discussed. Then the empirical evaluations on typical learning-to-rank methods are shown, with the LETOR collection as a benchmark dataset, which seems to suggest that the listwise approach be the most effective one among all the approaches. After that, a statistical ranking theory is introduced, which can describe different learning-to-rank algorithms, and be used to analyze their query-level generalization abilities. At the end of the tutorial, we provide a summary and discuss potential future work on learning to rank.

  • We show that incorporating user behavior data can significantly improve ordering of top results in real web search setting. We examine alternatives for incorporating feedback into the ranking process and explore the contributions of user feedback compared to other common web search features. We report results of a large scale evaluation over 3,000 queries and 12 million user interactions with a popular web search engine. We show that incorporating implicit feedback can augment other features, improving the accuracy of a competitive web search ranking algorithms by as much as 31% relative to the original performance.

  • There are currently two dominant interface types for searching and browsing large image collections: keyword-based search, and searching by overall similarity to sample images. We present an alternative based on enabling users to navigate along conceptual dimensions that describe the images. The interface makes use of hierarchical faceted metadata and dynamically generated query previews. A usability study, in which 32 art history students explored a collection of 35,000 fine arts images, compares this approach to a standard image search interface. Despite the unfamiliarity and power of the interface (attributes that often lead to rejection of new search interfaces), the study results show that 90% of the participants preferred the metadata approach overall, 97% said that it helped them learn more about the collection, 75% found it more flexible, and 72% found it easier to use than a standard baseline system. These results indicate that a category-based approach is a successful way to provide access to image collections.

  • Of growing interest in the area of improving the search experience is the collection of implicit user behavior measures (implicit measures) as indications of user interest and user satisfaction. Rather than having to submit explicit user feedback, which can be costly in time and resources and alter the pattern of use within the search experience, some research has explored the collection of implicit measures as an efficient and useful alternative to collecting explicit measure of interest from users.This research article describes a recent study with two main objectives. The first was to test whether there is an association between explicit ratings of user satisfaction and implicit measures of user interest. The second was to understand what implicit measures were most strongly associated with user satisfaction. The domain of interest was Web search. We developed an instrumented browser to collect a variety of measures of user activity and also to ask for explicit judgments of the relevance of individual pages visited and entire search sessions. The data was collected in a workplace setting to improve the generalizability of the results.Results were analyzed using traditional methods (e.g., Bayesian modeling and decision trees) as well as a new usage behavior pattern analysis (“gene analysis”). We found that there was an association between implicit measures of user activity and the user's explicit satisfaction ratings. The best models for individual pages combined clickthrough, time spent on the search result page, and how a user exited a result or ended a search session (exit type/end action). Behavioral patterns (through the gene analysis) can also be used to predict user satisfaction for search sessions.

  • We study the problem of answering ambiguous web queries in a setting where there exists a taxonomy of information, and that both queries and documents may belong to more than one category according to this taxonomy. We present a systematic approach to diversifying results that aims to minimize the risk of dissatisfaction of the average user. We propose an algorithm that well approximates this objective in general, and is provably optimal for a natural special case. Furthermore, we generalize several classical IR metrics, including NDCG, MRR, and MAP, to explicitly account for the value of diversification. We demonstrate empirically that our algorithm scores higher in these generalized metrics compared to results produced by commercial search engines.

  • In this paper, we define and present a comprehensive classification of user intent for Web searching. The classification consists of three hierarchical levels of informational, navigational, and transactional intent. After deriving attributes of each, we then developed a software application that automatically classified queries using a Web search engine log of over a million and a half queries submitted by several hundred thousand users. Our findings show that more than 80% of Web queries are informational in nature, with about 10% each being navigational and transactional. In order to validate the accuracy of our algorithm, we manually coded 400 queries and compared the results from this manual classification to the results determined by the automated method. This comparison showed that the automatic classification has an accuracy of 74%. Of the remaining 25% of the queries, the user intent is vague or multi-faceted, pointing to the need for probabilistic classification. We discuss how search engines can use knowledge of user intent to provide more targeted and relevant results in Web searching.

  • In this paper we present an analysis of an AltaVista Search Engine query log consisting of approximately 1 billion entries for search requests over a period of six weeks. This represents almost 285 million user sessions, each an attempt to fill a single information need. We present an analysis of individual queries, query duplication, and query sessions. We also present results of a correlation analysis of the log entries, studying the interaction of terms within queries. Our data supports the conjecture that web users differ significantly from the user assumed in the standard information retrieval literature. Specifically, we show that web users type in short queries, mostly look at the first 10 results only, and seldom modify the query. This suggests that traditional information retrieval techniques may not work well for answering web search requests. The correlation analysis showed that the most highly correlated items are constituents of phrases. This result indicates it may be useful for search engines to consider search terms as parts of phrases even if the user did not explicitly specify them as such.

  • Understanding user intent is key to designing an effective ranking system in a search engine. In the absence of any explicit knowledge of user intent, search engines want to diversify results to improve user satisfaction. In such a setting, the probability ranking principle-based approach of presenting the most relevant results on top can be sub-optimal, and hence the search engine would like to trade-off relevance for diversity in the results. In analogy to prior work on ranking and clustering systems, we use the axiomatic approach to characterize and design diversification systems. We develop a set of natural axioms that a diversification system is expected to satisfy, and show that no diversification function can satisfy all the axioms simultaneously. We illustrate the use of the axiomatic framework by providing three example diversification objectives that satisfy different subsets of the axioms. We also uncover a rich link to the facility dispersion problem that results in algorithms for a number of diversification objectives. Finally, we propose an evaluation methodology to characterize the objectives and the underlying axioms. We conduct a large scale evaluation of our objectives based on two data sets: a data set derived from the Wikipedia disambiguation pages and a product database.

  • This paper examines the reliability of implicit feedback generated from clickthrough data in WWW search. Analyzing the users' decision process using eyetracking and comparing implicit feedback against manual relevance judgments, we conclude that clicks are informative but biased. While this makes the interpretation of clicks as absolute relevance judgments difficult, we show that relative preferences derived from clicks are reasonably accurate on average.

Last update from database: 2021-05-16, 1:42 a.m. (EST)