Compound descriptors in context: a matching function for classifications and thesauri

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There are many advantages for Digital Libraries in indexing with classifications or thesauri, but some current disincentive in the lack of flexible retrieval tools that deal with compound descriptors. This paper discusses a matching function for compound descriptors, or multi-concept subject headings, that does not rely on exact matching but incorporates term expansion via thesaurus semantic relationships to produce ranked results that take account of missing and partially matching terms. The matching function is based on a measure of semantic closeness between terms, which has the potential to help with recall problems. The work reported is part of the ongoing FACET project in collaboration with the National Museum of Science and Industry and its collections database. The architecture of the prototype system and its interface are outlined. The matching problem for compound descriptors is reviewed and the FACET implementation described. Results are discussed from scenarios using the faceted Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus. We argue that automatic traversal of thesaurus relationships can augment the user's browsing possibilities. The techniques can be applied both to unstructured multi-concept subject headings and potentially to more syntactically structured strings. The notion of a focus term is used by the matching function to model AAT modified descriptors (noun phrases). The relevance of the approach to precoordinated indexing and matching faceted strings is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2nd ACM/IEEE-CS joint conference on Digital libraries
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherACM Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)1-58113-513-0
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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