Monday, 16 February 2009

ambiguous query terms

Since my last entry, on what to do with more generic query terms, I have come across a few sources about this. First, I happened to review a paper on the topic, which I of course can't say more about. Second, I have happened upon an interesting journal article looking at identifying ambiguous terms. It's by no means the only research to try and do this, but their recent work has found only around 16% of online queries are what they define as ambiguous.

Finally, an interesting blogger, has mentioned an alternative search engine called DuckDuckGo, which, I'm pleased to say, does almost exactly as I discussed in my previous entry. As you can see with the standard ambiguous example of apple, it breaks down results into groups that cover a range of its different domain relations, which can be used for interactive query expansion. Give it a try. They have a nice list of their defining features. I'm currently using it as my default search engine now too.


Daniel Tunkelang said...

I think that people overstate the problem of ambiguous queries when the more interesting challenge is how to deal with vague queries. That same interesting blogger discussed the issue in a post entitled Clarification vs. Refinement. I believe you read it. :-)

Max L. Wilson said...

agreed! 16% are considered ambiguous? that's much lower than expected, given that the average keywords per query is somewhere between 2 and 3 depending on the source.