Using Dempster-Shafer’s evidence theory for query expansion based on freebase knowledge

Pan, Dazhao; Zhang, Peng; Li, Jingfei; Song, Dawei; Wen, Jirong; Hou, Yuexian; Hu, Bin; Jia, Yuan and De Roeck, Anne (2013). Using Dempster-Shafer’s evidence theory for query expansion based on freebase knowledge. In: Ninth Asia Information Retrieval Societies Conference, 9-11 Dec 2013, Singapore.


Query expansion is generally a useful technique in improving search performance. However, some expanded query terms obtained by traditional statistical methods (e.g., pseudo-relevance feedback) may not be relevant to the user's information need, while some relevant terms may not be contained in the feedback documents at all. Recent studies utilize external resources to detect terms that are related to the query, and then adopt these terms in query expansion. In this paper, we present a study in the use of Freebase, which is an open source general-purpose ontology, as a source for deriving expansion terms. FreeBase provides a graph-based model of human knowledge, from which a rich and multi-step structure of instances related to the query concept can be extracted, as a complement to the traditional statistical approaches to query expansion. We propose a novel method, based on the well-principled Dempster-Shafer's (D-S) evidence theory, to measure the certainty of expansion terms from the Freebase structure. The expanded query model is then combined with a state of the art statistical query expansion model - the Relevance Model (RM3). Experiments show that the proposed method achieves significant improvements over RM3.

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