A unified search federation system based on online user feedback
Proceedings of the 19th ACM SIGKDD international conference on Knowledge discovery and data mining - KDD '13
Today's popular web search engines expand the search process beyond crawled web pages to specialized corpora ("verticals") like images, videos, news, local, sports, finance, and shopping etc., each with its own specialized search engine. Search federation deals with problems of the selection of search engines to query and merging of their results into a single result set. Despite a few recent advances, the problem is still very challenging. First, due to the heterogeneous nature of different
... ticals, how the system merges the vertical results with the web documents to serve the user's information need is still an open problem. Moreover, the scale of the search engine and the increasing number of vertical properties requires a solution which is efficient and scaleable. In this paper, we propose an unified framework for the search federation problem. We model the search federation as a contextual bandit problem. The system uses reward as a proxy for user satisfaction. Given a query, our system predicts the expected reward for each vertical, then organizes the search result page (SERP) in a way which maximizes the total reward. Instead of relying on human judges, our system leverages implicit user feedback to learn the model. The method is efficient to implement and can be applied to verticals of different nature. We have successfully deployed the system to three different markets, and it handles multiple verticals in each market. The system is now serving hundreds of millions of queries live each day, and has improved user metrics considerably.