Towards a semantic granularity model for domain-specific information retrieval

Yan, Xin; Lau, Raymond Y. K.; Song, Dawei; Li, Xue and Ma, Jian (2011). Towards a semantic granularity model for domain-specific information retrieval. ACM Transactions on Information Systems (TOIS), 29(3), article no. 15.



Both similarity-based and popularity-based document ranking functions have been successfully applied to information retrieval (IR) in general. However, the dimension of semantic granularity also should be considered for effective retrieval. In this article, we propose a semantic granularity-based IR model that takes into account the three dimensions, namely similarity, popularity, and semantic granularity, to improve domain-specific search. In particular, a concept-based computational model is developed to estimate the semantic granularity of documents with reference to a domain ontology. Semantic granularity refers to the levels of semantic detail carried by an information item. The results of our benchmark experiments confirm that the proposed semantic granularity based IR model performs significantly better than the similarity-based baseline in both a bio-medical and an agricultural domain. In addition, a series of user-oriented studies reveal that the proposed document ranking functions resemble the implicit ranking functions exercised by humans. The perceived relevance of the documents delivered by the granularity-based IR system is significantly higher than that produced by a popular search engine for a number of domain-specific search tasks. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study regarding the application of semantic granularity to enhance domain-specific IR.

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