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Future search engines won’t need you to repeatedly change terms upon failures

Washington, June 6 (ANI): A search engine that would not require a user to change the search terms to get any information time and again may soon be a reality, thanks to the efforts of a Penn State researcher.

Jim Jansen, associate professor of Information Sciences and Technology, analysed nearly 1 million Web searches to detect patterns of query reformulation and create models to predict them, which may help create more advanced search engines.

The researcher believes that, once failed to find any information, such engines would make further searches on behalf of any person without the user having to change search terms.

“The key finding in the research is that we are moving from descriptive aspects to predictive models in Web searching,” said Jansen.

Writing about the research team’s work in the online edition of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Jansen revealed that the search terms in 22 percent of queries were reformulated or changed to more precisely convey the information for which the user was searching.

“They typically moved to narrow their query at the start of the session, moving to reformulation in the mid and latter portions of the sessions. It appears that the assistance to narrow the query and alternate query terms would be most beneficial immediately after the initial query submission,” Jansen said.

The Penn State team also found low rates of users asking for system assistance in helping to find the desired information — perhaps because they are too focused on using their own search terms to find information.

“The implication is that system assistance should be most specifically targeted when the user is making a cognitive shift because it appears users are open to system intervention,” Jansen said.

Jansen considers this study to be a critical step in helping to design more advanced search engines.

“Given that one can predict future states of query formulation based on previous and present states with a reasonable degree of accuracy, one can design information systems that provide query reformulation assistance, automated searching assistance systems, recommender systems and others,” Jansen said. (ANI)

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