Search improvement via automatic query reformulation

Susan Gauch, John B. Smith
1991 ACM Transactions on Information Systems  
Users of online retrieval systems experience many difficulties, particularly with search tactics. User studies have indicated that searchers use vocabulary incorrectly and do not take full advantage of iteration to improve their queries. To address these problems, an expert system for online search assistance was developed. This prototype augments the searching capabilities of novice users by providing automatic query reformulation to improve the search results, and automatic ranking of the
more » ... ieved passages to speed the identification of relevant information. Users' search performance using the expert system was compared with their search performance on their own, and their search performance using an online thesaurus. The following conclusions were reached: 1) The expert system significantly reduced the number of queries necessary to find relevant passages compared with the user searching alone or with the thesaurus. 2) The expert system produced marginally significant improvements in precision compared with the user searching on their own. There was no significant difference in the recall achieved by the three system configurations. 3) Overall, the expert system ranked relevant passages above irrelevant passages.
doi:10.1145/125187.125193 fatcat:ft7zm3z565dx5j2crm2rwnk3x4