Interactive Case-Based Reasoning for Precise Information Retrieval

The knowledge explosion has continued to outpace technological innovation in search engines and knowledge management systems. It is increasingly difficult to find relevant information, not just on the World Wide Web at large but even in domain- specific medium-sized knowledge bases—online helpdesks, maintenance records, technical repositories, travel databases, e-commerce sites, and many others. Despite advances in search and database technology, the average user still spends inordinate amounts of time looking for specific information needed for a given task.

This paper describes an adaptive system for the precise, rapid retrieval and synthesis of information from medium-sized knowledge bases in response to problem-solving queries from a diverse user population. We advocate a shift in perspective from “search” to “answers. Instead of returning dozens or hundreds of hits to a user, the system should attempt to find answers that may or may not match the query directly but are relevant to the user’s problem or task.

This problem has been largely overlooked as research has tended to concentrate on techniques for broad searches of large databases over the Internet (as exemplified by Google) and structured queries of well-defined databases (as exemplified by SQL). However, the problem discussed in this chapter is sufficiently different from these extremes to both present a novel set of challenges as well as provide a unique opportunity to apply techniques not traditionally found in the information retrieval literature. Specifically, we discuss an innovative combination of techniques‚ case-based reasoning coupled with text analytics‚ to solve the problem in a practical, real-world context.

We are interested in applications in which users must quickly retrieve answers to specific questions or problems from a complex information database with a minimum of effort and interaction. Examples include internal helpdesk support, web-based self-help for consumer products, decision-aiding systems for support personnel, and repositories for specialized documents such as patents, technical documents, or scientific literature. These applications are characterized by the fact that a diverse user population accesses highly focused knowledge bases in order to find precise answers to specific questions or problems. Despite the growing popularity of on-line service and support facilities for internal use by employees and for external use for customers, most such sites rely on traditional search engine technologies and are not very effective in reducing the time, expertise, and complexity required on the user’s part.

Read the paper:

Interactive Case-Based Reasoning for Precise Information Retrieval

by Ashwin Ram, Mark Devaney

In Case-Based Reasoning in Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, David Aha and Sankar Pal (editors).

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