Towards natural question-guided search

Alexander Kotov, Cheng Xiang Zhai

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


Web search is generally motivated by an information need. Since asking well-formulated questions is the fastest and the most natural way to obtain information for human beings, almost all queries posed to search engines correspond to some underlying questions, which reflect the user's information need. Accurate determination of these questions may substantially improve the quality of search results and usability of search interfaces. In this paper, we propose a new framework for question-guided search, in which a retrieval system would automatically generate potentially interesting questions to users based on the search results of a query. Since the answers to such questions are known to exist in the search results, these questions can potentially guide users directly to the answers that they are looking for, eliminating the need to scan the documents in the result list. Moreover, in case of imprecise or ambiguous queries, automatically generated questions can naturally engage users into a feedback cycle to refine their information need and guide them towards their search goals. Implementation of the proposed strategy raises new challenges in content indexing, question generation, ranking and feedback. We propose new methods to address these challenges and evaluated them with a prototype system on a subset of Wikipedia. Evaluation results show the promise of this new question-guided search strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Conference on World Wide Web, WWW '10
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2010
Event19th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW2010 - Raleigh, NC, United States
Duration: Apr 26 2010Apr 30 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 19th International Conference on World Wide Web, WWW '10


Other19th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityRaleigh, NC


  • interactive search
  • query processing
  • search interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Science Applications


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