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  1. Web Mining Crawling

  2. Crawling the Web Web pages Few thousand characters long Served through the internet using the hypertext transport protocol (HTTP) Viewed at client end using `browsers’ Crawler To fetch the pages to the computer At the computer Automatic programs can analyze hypertext documents

  3. Introduction • Gathering data is a major task in web • In traditional data mining data accumulation is not a big problem. • However, web does not have a center of control • It is highly dynamic • Therefore a major task is to gather data for further processing • This is referred to as Crawling the web • Output of crawler is a portion of web pages Sharif University of Technology

  4. HTML • HyperText Markup Language • Lets the author • specify layout and typeface • embed diagrams • create hyperlinks. • expressed as an anchor tag with a HREF attribute • HREF names another page using a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), • URL = • protocol field (“HTTP”) + • a server hostname (“www.cse.iitb.ac.in”) + • file path (/, the `root' of the published file system). Sharif University of Technology

  5. HTTP(hypertext transport protocol) • Built on top of the Transport Control Protocol (TCP) • Steps(from client end) • resolve the server host name to an Internet address (IP) • Use Domain Name Server (DNS) • DNS is a distributed database of name-to-IP mappings maintained at a set of known servers • contact the server using TCP • connect to default HTTP port (80) on the server. • Enter the HTTP requests header (E.g.: GET) • Fetch the response header • MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) • A meta-data standard for email and Web content transfer • Fetch the HTML page Sharif University of Technology

  6. Crawl “all” Web pages? • Problem: no catalog of all accessible URLs on the Web. • Solution: • start from a given set of URLs • Progressively fetch and scan them for new outlinking URLs • fetch these pages in turn….. • Submit the text in page to a text indexing system • and so on………. Sharif University of Technology

  7. Crawling procedure • Simple • Great deal of engineering goes into industry-strength crawlers • Industry crawlers crawl a substantial fraction of the Web • E.g.: Alta Vista, Northern Lights, Inktomi • No guarantee that all accessible Web pages will be located in this fashion • Crawler may never halt ……. • pages will be added continually even as it is running. Sharif University of Technology

  8. Crawling overheads • Delays involved in • Resolving the host name in the URL to an IP address using DNS • Connecting a socket to the server and sending the request • Receiving the requested page in response • Solution: Overlap the above delays by • fetching many pages at the same time Sharif University of Technology

  9. Anatomy of a crawler. • Page fetching threads • Starts with DNS resolution • Finishes when the entire page has been fetched • Each page • stored in compressed form to disk/tape • scanned for outlinks • Work pool of outlinks • maintain network utilization without overloading it • Dealt with by load manager • Continue till he crawler has collected a sufficient number of pages. Sharif University of Technology

  10. Typical anatomy of a large-scale crawler. Sharif University of Technology

  11. Large-scale crawlers: performance and reliability considerations • Need to fetch many pages at same time • utilize the network bandwidth • single page fetch may involve several seconds of network latency • Highly concurrent and parallelized DNS lookups • Use of asynchronous sockets • Explicit encoding of the state of a fetch context in a data structure • Polling socket to check for completion of network transfers • Multi-processing or multi-threading: Impractical • Care in URL extraction • Eliminating duplicates to reduce redundant fetches • Avoiding “spider traps” Sharif University of Technology

  12. DNS caching, pre-fetching and resolution • A customized DNS component with….. • Custom client for address resolution • Caching server • Prefetching client Sharif University of Technology

  13. Custom client for address resolution • Tailored for concurrent handling of multiple outstanding requests • Allows issuing of many resolution requests together • polling at a later time for completion of individual requests • Facilitates load distribution among many DNS servers. Sharif University of Technology

  14. Caching server • With a large cache, persistent across DNS restarts • Residing largely in memory if possible. Sharif University of Technology

  15. Prefetching client • Steps • Parse a page that has just been fetched • extract host names from HREF targets • Make DNS resolution requests to the caching server • Usually implemented using UDP • User Datagram Protocol • connectionless, packet-based communication protocol • does not guarantee packet delivery • Does not wait for resolution to be completed. Sharif University of Technology

  16. Multiple concurrent fetches • Managing multiple concurrent connections • A single download may take several seconds • Open many socket connections to different HTTP servers simultaneously • Multi-CPU machines not useful • crawling performance limited by network and disk • Two approaches • using multi-threading • using non-blocking sockets with event handlers Sharif University of Technology

  17. Multi-threading • logical threads • physical thread of control provided by the operating system (E.g.: pthreads) OR • concurrent processes • fixed number of threads allocated in advance • programming paradigm • create a client socket • connect the socket to the HTTP service on a server • Send the HTTP request header • read the socket (recv) until • no more characters are available • close the socket. • use blockingsystem calls Sharif University of Technology

  18. Multi-threading: Problems • performance penalty • mutual exclusion • concurrent access to data structures • slow disk seeks. • great deal of interleaved, random input-output on disk • Due to concurrent modification of document repository by multiple threads Sharif University of Technology

  19. Non-blocking sockets and event handlers • non-blocking sockets • connect, send or recv call returns immediately without waiting for the network operation to complete. • poll the status of the network operation separately • “select” system call • lets application suspend until more data can be read from or written to the socket • timing out after a pre-specified deadline • Monitor polls several sockets at the same time • More efficient memory management • code that completes processing not interrupted by other completions • No need for locks and semaphores on the pool • only append complete pages to the log Sharif University of Technology

  20. Link extraction and normalization • Goal: Obtaining a canonical form of URL • URL processing and filtering • Avoid multiple fetches of pages known by different URLs • many IP addresses • For load balancing on large sites • Mirrored contents/contents on same file system • “Proxy pass“ • Mapping of different host names to a single IP address • need to publish many logical sites • Relative URLs • need to be interpreted w.r.t to a base URL. Sharif University of Technology

  21. Canonical URL Formed by • Using a standard string for the protocol • Canonicalizing the host name • Adding an explicit port number • Normalizing and cleaning up the path Sharif University of Technology

  22. Robot exclusion • Check • whether the server prohibits crawling a normalized URL • In robots.txt file in the HTTP root directory of the server • species a list of path prefixes which crawlers should not attempt to fetch. • Meant for crawlers only Sharif University of Technology

  23. Eliminating already-visited URLs • Checking if a URL has already been fetched • Before adding a new URL to the work pool • Needs to be very quick. • Achieved by computing MD5 hash function on the URL • Exploiting spatio-temporal locality of access • Two-level hash function. • most significant bits (say, 24) derived by hashing the host name plus port • lower order bits (say, 40) derived by hashing the path • concatenated bits used as a key in a B-tree • qualifying URLs added to frontier of the crawl. • hash values added to B-tree. Sharif University of Technology

  24. Spider traps • Protecting from crashing on • Ill-formed HTML • E.g.: page with 68 kB of null characters • Misleading sites • indefinite number of pages dynamically generated by CGI scripts • paths of arbitrary depth created using soft directory links and path remapping features in HTTP server Sharif University of Technology

  25. Spider Traps: Solutions • No automatic technique can be foolproof • Check for URL length • Guards • Preparing regular crawl statistics • Adding dominating sites to guard module • Disable crawling active content such as CGI form queries Sharif University of Technology

  26. Avoiding repeated expansion of links on duplicate pages • Reduce redundancy in crawls • Duplicate detection • Mirrored Web pages and sites • Detecting exact duplicates • Checking against MD5 digests of stored URLs • Representing a relative link v (relative to aliases u1 and u2) as tuples (h(u1); v) and (h(u2); v) • Detecting near-duplicates • Even a single altered character will completely change the digest ! • E.g.: date of update/ name and email of the site administrator • Solution : Shingling Sharif University of Technology

  27. Load monitor • Keeps track of various system statistics • Recent performance of the wide area network (WAN) connection • E.g.: latency and bandwidth estimates. • Operator-provided/estimated upper bound on open sockets for a crawler • Current number of active sockets. Sharif University of Technology

  28. Thread manager • Responsible for • Choosing units of work from frontier • Scheduling issue of network resources • Distribution of these requests over multiple ISPs if appropriate. • Uses statistics from load monitor Sharif University of Technology

  29. Per-server work queues • Denial of service (DoS) attacks • limit the speed or frequency of responses to any fixed client IP address • Avoiding DOS • limit the number of active requests to a given server IP address at any time • maintain a queue of requests for each server • Use the HTTP/1.1 persistent socket capability. • Distribute attention relatively evenly between a large number of sites • Access locality vs. politeness dilemma Sharif University of Technology

  30. Text repository • Crawler’s last task • Dumping fetched pages into a repository • Decoupling crawler from other functions for efficiency and reliability preferred • Page-related information stored in two parts • meta-data • page contents. Sharif University of Technology

  31. Storage of page-related information • Meta-data • relational in nature • usually managed by custom software to avoid relation database system overheads • includes fields like content-type, last-modified date, content-length, HTTP status code, etc. Sharif University of Technology

  32. Page contents storage • Typical HTML Web page compresses to 2-4 kB (using zlib) • File systems have a 4-8 kB file block size • Too large !! • Page storage managed by custom storage manager • simple access methods for • crawler to add pages • Subsequent programs (Indexer etc) to retrieve documents Sharif University of Technology

  33. Page Storage • Small-scale systems • Repository fitting within the disks of a single machine • Use of storage manager (E.g.: Berkeley DB) • Manage disk-based databases within a single file • configuration as a hash-table/B-tree for URL access key • To handle ordered access of pages • configuration as a sequential log of page records. • Since Indexer can handle pages in any order Sharif University of Technology

  34. Page Storage • Large Scale systems • Repository distributed over a number of storage servers • Storage servers • Connected to the crawler through a fast local network (E.g.: Ethernet) • Hashed by URLs Sharif University of Technology

  35. Large-scale crawlers often use multiple ISPs and a bank of local storage servers to store the pages crawled. Sharif University of Technology

  36. Refreshing crawled pages • Search engine's index should be fresh • Web-scale crawler never `completes' its job • High variance of rate of page changes • “If-modified-since” request header with HTTP protocol • Impractical for a crawler • Solution • At commencement of new crawling round estimate which pages have changed Sharif University of Technology

  37. Determining page changes • “Expires” HTTP response header • For page that come with an expiry date • Otherwise need to guess if revisiting that page will yield a modified version. • Score reflecting probability of page being modified • Crawler fetches URLs in decreasing order of score. • Assumption : recent past predicts the future Sharif University of Technology

  38. Estimating page change rates • Brewington and Cybenko & Cho • Algorithms for maintaining a crawl in which most pages are fresher than a specified epoch. • Prerequisite • average interval at which crawler checks for changes is smaller than the inter-modification times of a page • Small scale intermediate crawler runs • to monitor fast changing sites • E.g.: current news, weather, etc. • Patched intermediate indices into master index Sharif University of Technology

  39. Putting together a crawler • Reference implementation of the HTTP client protocol • World-wide Web Consortium (http://www.w3c.org/) • w3c-libwww package Sharif University of Technology

  40. Design of the core components: Crawler class. • To copy bytes from network sockets to storage media • Three methods to express Crawler's contract with user • pushing a URL to be fetched to the Crawler (fetchPush) • Termination callback handler (fetchDone) called with same URL • Method (start) which starts Crawler's event loop. • Implementation of Crawler class • Need for two helper classes called DNS and Fetch Sharif University of Technology

  41. Reference • Chapter 2 of Soumen book Sharif University of Technology