A formal study of information retrieval heuristics

Hui Fang, Tao Tao, Cheng Xiang Zhai

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Empirical studies of information retrieval methods show that good retrieval performance is closely related to the use of various retrieval heuristics, such as TF-IDF weighting. One basic research question is thus what exactly are these "necessary" heuristics that seem to cause good retrieval performance. In this paper, we present a formal study of retrieval heuristics. We formally define a set of basic desirable constraints that any reasonable retrieval function should satisfy, and check these constraints on a variety of representative retrieval functions. We find that none of these retrieval functions satisfies all the constraints unconditionally. Empirical results show that when a constraint is not satisfied, it often indicates non-optimality of the method, and when a constraint is satisfied only for a certain range of parameter values, its performance tends to be poor when the parameter is out of the range. In general, we find that the empirical performance of a retrieval formula is tightly related to how well it satisfies these constraints. Thus the proposed constraints provide a good explanation of many empirical observations and make it possible to evaluate any existing or new retrieval formula analytically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of Sheffield SIGIR - Twenty-Seventh Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages49-56
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)1581138814, 9781581138818
DOIs
StatePublished - 2004
EventProceedings of Sheffield SIGIR - Twenty-Seventh Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval - Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: Jul 25 2004Jul 29 2004

Publication series

NameProceedings of Sheffield SIGIR - Twenty-Seventh Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval

Other

OtherProceedings of Sheffield SIGIR - Twenty-Seventh Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval
CountryUnited Kingdom
CitySheffield
Period7/25/047/29/04

Keywords

  • Constraints
  • Formal models
  • Retrieval heuristics
  • TF-IDF weighting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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