Francisco corella and karen p lewison www pomcor com use noflail search at noflail com april 2009
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Searching the Web More Effectively With Multiple Simultaneous Queries. Francisco Corella and Karen P. Lewison www.pomcor.com Use Noflail  Search at noflail.com April 2009. Search Engines Are Effective. First result is often what we are looking for But there are difficult search problems

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Francisco corella and karen p lewison www pomcor com use noflail search at noflail com april 2009 l.jpg

Searching the Web More Effectively With Multiple Simultaneous Queries

Francisco Corella and Karen P. Lewison

www.pomcor.com

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com

April 2009


Search engines are effective l.jpg
Search Engines Are Effective Simultaneous Queries

  • First result is often what we are looking for

  • But there are difficult search problems

    • Example: finding a conference on search, but not on SEO, is hard:

      • There are many conferences on SEO

      • “Search” is used with different meanings in many different contexts

      • “Conference” has several synonyms

      • “Conference on search” vs. “searching for conferences”

      • “Search” may be used to label a site-search box

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Semantics may address many of these difficulties l.jpg
Semantics May Address Many of These Difficulties Simultaneous Queries

  • …by allowing for more precision in query specification and content encoding, through:

    • Context specification:

      • Information Retrieval vs. Marketing vs. Search & Rescue…

    • Concept specification:

      • Concept of conference vs. the many synonyms of the word “conference”

    • Specification of relationship between two concepts:

      • “Conference on search” vs. “searching for conferences”

    • Exclusion of “non-semantic” words from the index

      • E.g. the word “Search” used as label of a site-search box

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Semantic technologies are promising but difficult l.jpg
Semantic Technologies Are Promising but Difficult Simultaneous Queries

  • Semantics require:

    • Sophisticated content encoding

    • A different way of indexing the encoded content

    • A different way of formulating queries about the encoded content

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


While semantic technologies mature it is worth asking l.jpg
While Semantic Technologies Mature, It Is Worth Asking: Simultaneous Queries

Is it possible to help users with difficult search problems, today, with the current Web, using an existing index and ordinary queries?

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


The answer yes l.jpg
The Answer: YES Simultaneous Queries

In Noflail Search (available at noflail.com), we provide substantial help with difficult search problems, using a better user interface with an unmodified backend accessed through a Web API

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


An unusual architecture l.jpg
An Unusual Architecture Simultaneous Queries

2. Queries / results

api.search.live.net (Web API)

Noflail Search Flex Platform Flash Player Browser User’s Laptop

1. Flex code

noflail.com

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


How can a user interface help with a difficult search problem l.jpg
How Can a User Interface Help with a Difficult Search Problem?

  • What does a user do when confronted with a difficult search problem?

    • The user may issue several queries and look at the first page of results of each query, e.g.:

      • “search conference”: nothing

      • “web search conference”: nothing

      • “web search meeting”: nothing

      • “search technology conference”: finds Semantic Technology Conference, not broad enough

      • “search technology meeting”: nothing

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


What does a user do continued l.jpg
What does a user do? Problem?(Continued)

  • The user may go back to some of the queries and view one or two more pages of results

    • Still nothing found in the example

  • The user may issue more queries or dig deeper into the result sets of some of the previous queries

    • Finally, the query “web search meeting” yields the Search Engine Meeting in page 4

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


What does a user do continued10 l.jpg
What does a user do? Problem?(Continued)

  • This is a laborious process:

    • Going back to earlier queries requires retyping them, or using the back arrow to backtrack past intervening pages, or finding the queries in the browser history

    • We could think of bookmarking queries, but this is cumbersome---more on this below

  • To put it informally, when we face a tough search problem:

    WE FLAIL

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Four ideas for helping the user l.jpg
Four Ideas for Helping the User Problem?

  • Let the user save queries

  • Let the user browse multiple result sets at once

  • Provide cooperative responses to queries that have zero results

  • Issue multiple queries simultaneously

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


1 saving queries l.jpg
1. Saving Queries Problem?

  • Queries are saved in Flex local storage

  • Saved queries are shown in a left panel, on the search page itself

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com



1 saving queries continued l.jpg
1. Saving Queries Problem?(Continued)

  • Note: Ordinary bookmarks also allow users to save queries (actually, pages of results), but this is cumbersome:

    • Three clicks to save a bookmark

    • Bookmarks not visible from search page

    • Bookmarks of result pages mixed with bookmarks of ordinary Web pages

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Saving queries continued l.jpg
Saving Queries Problem?(Continued)

  • Each new query is placed automatically in the left panel, together with possible follow-up queries

  • Follow-up queries may include:

    • A respelling of the original query

    • Related queries

    • Subqueries (queries with fewer search terms) if there are no related queries

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Saving queries continued16 l.jpg
Saving Queries Problem?(Continued)

  • Queries are inserted into the left panel with checkmarks that cause them to be deleted automatically when the user issues another query

    • Thus the user can safely ignore the left panel

  • The user can save a query by removing its checkmark before issuing the next query

  • The user can build a database of useful queries, reordering them as needed by drag-and-drop

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


2 browsing multiple result sets l.jpg
2. Browsing Multiple Result Sets Problem?

  • The user can click on any query in the left panel to see its result set in a center panel (there is also a right panel for ads)

  • The center panel has the usual page menu at the bottom, which lets the user browse the result set

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com



2 browsing multiple result sets continued l.jpg
2. Browsing Multiple Result Sets Problem?(Continued)

  • Noflail Search remembers the last page visited in each result set, and keeps it in memory

  • Thus the user can switch from one result set to another with one click and zero delay, and resume browsing where he/she left off

  • This is what we mean by browsing multiple result sets at once

  • This lets the user do a manual breadth-first search on multiple result sets effortlessly

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


3 cooperative responses to queries with zero results l.jpg
3. Cooperative Responses to Queries with Zero Results Problem?

  • Queries with zero results are infrequent in the Web at large

  • But they are important, e.g., in site search

  • What do traditional search engines do when there are no results?

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com



3 cooperative responses continued l.jpg
3. Cooperative Responses Problem?(Continued)

  • If the query-response were a natural language question-answer, this would be called an uncooperative response, or, informally, stonewalling

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


3 cooperative responses continued23 l.jpg
3. Cooperative Responses Problem?(Continued)

  • It is possible to provide instead a cooperative response that gives:

    • The maximal subqueries (subqueries with the most terms, hence most specific) that have results, as possible follow-up queries

    • The minimal subqueries (with the fewest terms, hence most general) that do not have results, as so-to-speak reasons for the failure

  • These subqueries are listed in the left panel, and the user can immediately browse the result sets of all the possible follow-up queries

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Slide24 l.jpg

Suggested follow-ups Problem?

Two separate reasons for the failure

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Algorithm for computing the cooperative response l.jpg
Algorithm for Computing the Cooperative Response Problem?

  • It operates on the graph of subqueries of the original query

  • Notations:

    • P=“Paella”, M=“Mussels” , S=“Squid”, E=“Escargots”

    • “site:myrecipes.com” has been factored out for simplicity

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Slide26 l.jpg

PMSE Problem?

PMS

PME

PSE

MSE

PM

PS

PE

MS

ME

SE

P

M

S

E

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Algorithm continued l.jpg
Algorithm Problem?(Continued)

  • It explores the subgraph of zero-results subqueries

  • It submits subqueries in parallel to the Web API

  • It submits a subquery as soon as it knows that all its parents have zero results; hence when a subquery with results is found, it must be maximal

  • It collects subqueries with zero results, but when a new one is found, it throws away its parents, so that, at the end, the collection contains the minimal subqueries with zero results

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Example l.jpg
Example Problem?

  • The animation in the next slide illustrates a possible run of the algorithm:

    • Orange=“Issued, no response yet”; Green=“Has results”; Red=“Zero results”; Red-but-crossed=“Zero results but not minimal”

    • When multiple subqueries are outstanding, their results may come back in any order; the order in the animation is just an example

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Slide29 l.jpg

Click to animate Problem?

PMSE

PMS

PME

PSE

MSE

PM

PS

PE

MS

ME

SE

P

M

S

E

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Example continued l.jpg
Example Problem?(Continued)

  • Results:

    • Maximal subqueries with results (green)

      • PM = “Paella Mussels”

      • PS = “Paella Squid”

      • MS = “Mussels Squid”

    • Minimal subqueries with zero results (red, not crossed)

      • PMS = “Paella Mussels Squid”

      • E = “Escargots”

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


4 issuing multiple queries simultaneously l.jpg
4. Issuing multiple queries simultaneously Problem?

  • We’ve just used that idea for the previous algorithm!

  • Cooperative responses would not be practical without the ability to issue queries in parallel against the Web API:

    • Parallel queries: time linear in number of terms; just a few seconds even when forty or fifty subqueries have to be submitted

    • Sequential queries: time exponential in number of terms; could take 15 or 20 seconds for a 6-term query that requires submitting 30 or 40 subqueries

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


4 issuing multiple queries simultaneously continued l.jpg
4. Issuing multiple queries simultaneously Problem?(Continued)

  • Multiple simultaneous queries may also be used to prefetch follow-up queries, even when the original query has results

  • Recall that follow-up queries may include:

    • A respelling of the original query

    • Related queries

    • Subqueries if there are no related queries

  • Prefetching would mean zero delay even the first time the user clicks on a follow-up query

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


4 issuing multiple queries simultaneously continued33 l.jpg
4. Issuing multiple queries simultaneously Problem?(Continued)

  • But there is a downside: resource consumption at the backend!

    • Queries with results:

      • If a query has N follow-up queries in the average, prefetching would take (N+1) more resources

      • Limited benefit

    • Queries with zero results:

      • Big benefit: cooperative responses

      • Cooperative responses are expensive, but queries with zero results are very rare

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


4 issuing multiple queries simultaneously continued34 l.jpg
4. Issuing multiple queries simultaneously Problem?(Continued)

  • After discussion with the Microsoft (the backend provider):

    • No prefetching of follow-up queries when the original query has results

    • Simultaneous queries OK to compute cooperative responses when the query has zero results

      • We only do the zero-results analysis for queries with no more than 6 terms.

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


General boolean queries queries with and or not l.jpg
General Boolean Queries (Queries with AND, OR, NOT) Problem?

  • Not implemented yet in Noflail Search

  • The white paper at http://www.pomcor.com/whitepapers/multisearch.pdfproposes a method for suggesting follow-up queries to Boolean queries, and an algorithm that provides cooperative responses to Boolean queries that produce zero results.

  • Here we just give an example of a possible run of that algorithm for a particular query

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Illustration of the general algorithm l.jpg
Illustration of the General Algorithm Problem?

  • Query:

    PME+PSE, i.e.

    (Paella AND Mussels AND Escargots) OR

    (Paella AND Squid AND Escargots)

    with site constraint factored out as before

  • Key idea:

    • The user is only interested in subqueries of PME and PSE; not interested in subqueries with both M and S.

  • The subquery graph now has an area of interest

    • Black: subquery of interest

    • Grey: subquery not of interest

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Slide37 l.jpg

PMSE Problem?

PMS

PME

PSE

MSE

PM

PS

PE

MS

ME

SE

P

M

S

E

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Illustration of the general algorithm continued l.jpg
Illustration of the General Algorithm Problem?(Continued)

  • Since PME+PSE has zero results, both PME and PSE must have zero results

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Slide39 l.jpg

PMSE Problem?

PMS

PME

PSE

MSE

PM

PS

PE

MS

ME

SE

P

M

S

E

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Illustration of the general algorithm continued40 l.jpg
Illustration of the General Algorithm Problem?(Continued)

  • The algorithm produces:

    • The maximal subqueries among those of interest that have results

    • The minimal subqueries among those of interest that have zero results

  • The animation in the next slide illustrates a possible run of an algorithm

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Slide41 l.jpg

PMSE Problem?

PMS

PME

PSE

MSE

PM

PS

PE

MS

ME

SE

P

M

S

E

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


Illustration of the general algorithm continued42 l.jpg
Illustration of the General Algorithm Problem?(Continued)

  • Results:

    • Maximal subqueries of interest with results (green)

      • PM = “Paella AND Mussels”

      • PS = “Paella AND Squid”

    • Minimal subqueries of interest with zero results (red, not crossed)

      • E = “Escargots”

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


For more information l.jpg
For More Information Problem?

  • White paper: http://www.pomcor.com/whitepapers/multisearch.pdf

  • Presentation in PDF format (without animation) available at the Search Engine Meeting Web site:

    http://www.infonortics.eu/searchengines/index.html

  • For comments, questions or to get the animated PowerPoint file, send email to

    Francisco Corella <[email protected]>

Use Noflail Search at noflail.com


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