From the post:
North Carolina State University researchers have developed a way for search engines to provide users with more accurate, personalized search results. The challenge in the past has been how to scale this approach up so that it doesn’t consume massive computer resources. Now the researchers have devised a technique for implementing personalized searches that is more than 100 times more efficient than previous approaches.
At issue is how search engines handle complex or confusing queries. For example, if a user is searching for faculty members who do research on financial informatics, that user wants a list of relevant webpages from faculty, not the pages of graduate students mentioning faculty or news stories that use those terms. That’s a complex search.
“Similarly, when searches are ambiguous with multiple possible interpretations, traditional search engines use impersonal techniques. For example, if a user searches for the term ‘jaguar speed,’ the user could be looking for information on the Jaguar supercomputer, the jungle cat or the car,” says Dr. Kemafor Anyanwu, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and senior author of a paper on the research. “At any given time, the same person may want information on any of those things, so profiling the user isn’t necessarily very helpful.”
Anyanwu’s team has come up with a way to address the personalized search problem by looking at a user’s “ambient query context,” meaning they look at a user’s most recent searches to help interpret the current search. Specifically, they look beyond the words used in a search to associated concepts to determine the context of a search. So, if a user’s previous search contained the word “conservation” it would be associated with concepts likes “animals” or “wildlife” and even “zoos.” Then, a subsequent search for “jaguar speed” would push results about the jungle cat higher up in the results — and not the automobile or supercomputer. And the more recently a concept has been associated with a search, the more weight it is given when ranking results of a new search.
I rather like the contrast of ambiguous searches being resolved with “impersonal techniques.”
The paper, Scaling Concurrency of Personalized Semantic Search over Large RDF Data by Haizhou Fu, Hyeongsik Kim, and Kemafor Anyanwu, has this abstract:
Recent keyword search techniques on Semantic Web are moving away from shallow, information retrieval-style approaches that merely find “keyword matches” towards more interpretive approaches that attempt to induce structure from keyword queries. The process of query interpretation is usually guided by structures in data, and schema and is often supported by a graph exploration procedure. However, graph exploration-based interpretive techniques are impractical for multi-tenant scenarios for large database because separate expensive graph exploration states need to be maintained for different user queries. This leads to significant memory overhead in situations of large numbers of concurrent requests. This limitation could negatively impact the possibility of achieving the ultimate goal of personalizing search. In this paper, we propose a lightweight interpretation approach that employs indexing to improve throughput and concurrency with much less memory overhead. It is also more amenable to distributed or partitioned execution. The approach is implemented in a system called “SKI” and an experimental evaluation of SKI’s performance on the DBPedia and Billion Triple Challenge datasets show orders-of-magnitude performance improvement over existing techniques.
If you are interesting in scaling issues for topic maps, note the use of indexing as opposed to graph exploration techniques in this paper.
Also consider mining “discovered” contexts that lead to “better” results from the viewpoint of users. Those could be the seeds for serializing those contexts as topic maps.
Perhaps even directly applicable to work by researchers, librarians, intelligence analysts.
Seasoned searchers use richer contexts in searching that the average user and if those contexts are captured, they could enrich the search contexts of the average user.