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  • 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.

  • The experimental evidence accumulated over the past 20 years indicates that text indexing systems based on the assignment of appropriately weighted single terms produce retrieval results that are superior to those obtainable with other more elaborate text representations. These results depend crucially on the choice of effective termweighting systems. This article summarizes the insights gained in automatic term weighting, and provides baseline single-term-indexing models with which other more elaborate content analysis procedures can be compared.

  • In a document retrieval, or other pattern matching environment where stored entities (documents) are compared with each other or with incoming patterns (search requests), it appears that the best indexing (property) space is one where each entity lies as far away from the others as possible; in these circumstances the value of an indexing system may be expressible as a function of the density of the object space; in particular, retrieval performance may correlate inversely with space density. An approach based on space density computations is used to choose an optimum indexing vocabulary for a collection of documents. Typical evaluation results are shown, demonstating the usefulness of the model.

  • The Probabilistic Relevance Framework (PRF) is a formal framework for document retrieval, grounded in work done in the 1970–1980s, which led to the development of one of the most successful text-retrieval algorithms, BM25. In recent years, research in the PRF has yielded new retrieval models capable of taking into account document meta-data (especially structure and link-graph information). Again, this has led to one of the most successful Web-search and corporate-search algorithms, BM25F. This work presents the PRF from a conceptual point of view, describing the probabilistic modelling assumptions behind the framework and the different ranking algorithms that result from its application: the binary independence model, relevance feedback models, BM25 and BM25F. It also discusses the relation between the PRF and other statistical models for IR, and covers some related topics, such as the use of non-textual features, and parameter optimisation for models with free parameters.

  • The goal of the Redundancy, Diversity, and Interdependent Document Relevance workshop was to explore how ranking, performance assessment and learning to rank can move beyond the assumption that the relevance of a document is independent of other documents. In particular, the workshop focussed on three themes: the effect of redundancy on information retrieval utility (for example, minimizing the wasted effort of users who must skip redundant information), the role of diversity (for example, for mitigating the risk of misinterpreting ambiguous queries), and algorithms for set-level optimization (where the quality of a set of retrieved documents is not simply the sum of its parts). This workshop built directly upon the Beyond Binary Relevance: Preferences, Diversity and Set-Level Judgments workshop at SIGIR 2008 [3], shifting focus to address the questions left open by the discussions and results from that workshop. As such, it was the first workshop to explicitly focus on the related research challenges of redundancy, diversity, and interdependent relevance – all of which require novel performance measures, learning methods, and evaluation techniques. The workshop program committee consisted of 15 researchers from academia and industry, with experience in IR evaluation, machine learning, and IR algorithmic design. Over 40 people attended the workshop. This report aims to summarize the workshop, and also to systematize common themes and key concepts so as to encourage research in the three workshop themes. It contains our attempt to summarize and organize the topics that came up in presentations as well as in discussions, pulling out common elements. Many audience members contributed, yet due to the free-flowing discussion, attributing all the observations to particular audience members is unfortunately impossible. Not all audience members would necessarily agree with the views presented, but we do attempt to present a consensus view as far as possible.

  • This paper reports on a novel technique for literature indexing and searching in a mechanized library system. The notion of relevance is taken as the key concept in the theory of information retrieval and a comparative concept of relevance is explicated in terms of the theory of probability. The resulting technique called “Probabilistic Indexing,” allows a computing machine, given a request for information, to make a statistical inference and derive a number (called the “relevance number”) for each document, which is a measure of the probability that the document will satisfy the given request. The result of a search is an ordered list of those documents which satisfy the request ranked according to their probable relevance. The paper goes on to show that whereas in a conventional library system the cross-referencing (“see” and “see also”) is based solely on the “semantical closeness” between index terms, statistical measures of closeness between index terms can be defined and computed. Thus, given an arbitrary request consisting of one (or many) index term(s), a machine can elaborate on it to increase the probability of selecting relevant documents that would not otherwise have been selected. Finally, the paper suggests an interpretation of the whole library problem as one where the request is considered as a clue on the basis of which the library system makes a concatenated statistical inference in order to provide as an output an ordered list of those documents which most probably satisfy the information needs of the user.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • The use of data stored in transaction logs of Web search engines, Intranets, and Web sites can provide valuable insight into understanding the information-searching process of online searchers. This understanding can enlighten information system design, interface development, and devising the information architecture for content collections. This article presents a review and foundation for conducting Web search transaction log analysis. A methodology is outlined consisting of three stages, which are collection, preparation, and analysis. The three stages of the methodology are presented in detail with discussions of goals, metrics, and processes at each stage. Critical terms in transaction log analysis for Web searching are defined. The strengths and limitations of transaction log analysis as a research method are presented. An application to log client-side interactions that supplements transaction logs is reported on, and the application is made available for use by the research community. Suggestions are provided on ways to leverage the strengths of, while addressing the limitations of, transaction log analysis for Web-searching research. Finally, a complete flat text transaction log from a commercial search engine is available as supplementary material with this manuscript.

  • 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.

Last update from database: 2021-06-13, 1:42 a.m. (EST)