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A Review On Web Search Engines Retrieval Methods

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A Review On Web Search Engines' Retrieval Methods -Best match as principal and Boolean searching as auxiliary 21st December 2001 JIN, JIEJUN MSc in Information Management INF 6060 Information Storage and Retrieval Abstract This essay is aimed to analyse why most World Wide Web search engines provide best match searching as their principle retrieval method with Boolean searching playing an auxiliary role. The World Wide Web has revolutionised the way in which people access information, and search engines are are widely used by people to find useful information on the Web. There are pros and cons lying in both best match retrieval system and Boolean retrieval system. Comparisons of these two retrieval methods show that the performance of best match searching is generally stronger than Boolean searching in an online environment for general uses. Nevertheless, as long as in some circumstances Boolean searching provides more effective and accurate performance, a replacement is not seen. Main Contents The Importance of Searching The World Wide Web Seeking information is an activity fundamental to all human beings. Throughout history, one of man's primary concerns has been to satisfy his information needs. With the development of new technologies, people's behaviour with regard to accessing information has been greatly changed. Since the Internet was invented in 1969, it has been growing rapidly and now has extensions in every corner of the globe (Poutler (1997)). The World Wide Web (WWW) has revolutionised the way in which people access information, and has opened up new possibilities in areas such as digital libraries, and the dissemination and retrieval of scientific information. The Internet is proving to have important implications in areas as diverse as education, commerce, entertainment, and medicine and health care. ...read more.


say that users in all types of information retrieval systems face the central difficulty of effective, interactive formulation (and reformulation) of the queries that represent their information problems. Web search engines are no exception. Belkin and Croft (1987) state that from experimental studies it has been known for some time that in terms of recall and precision performance measures, best-match, ranked output retrieval techniques are in general superior in non-interactive settings to exact-match systems, such as commercial Boolean information retrieval systems. The Boolean retrieval system has been used for several decades, but it has always been subject to certain criticisms. Cooper (1983) says that Boolean systems have some serious drawbacks. The first drawback is that the Boolean language is confusing to the novice. This may be true. Since a Boolean search system only accepts Boolean queries as input, a user is required to construct the query formulations by Boolean logic operators (AND, OR, and NOT). Constructing a query formulation in Boolean form poses evident difficulties for those inexperienced users or those who have not been trained to operate Boolean logic. Salton et al. (1983) write, In operational information retrieval, Boolean query formulations are used to express the customers' information needs. The standard rules of Boolean logic may not, however, provide an ideal environment for the formulation of effective search requests... Unfortunately there exists much evidence to show that ordinary users are unable to master the complications of Boolean logic, and even professional indexers and searchers find it difficult to construct consistently effective index representations and search statement. Similarly, Willett (1988) argues that although the great majority of current retrieval systems are based upon Boolean searching, there are severe problems associated with the use of such a retrieval model. ...read more.


(Pritchard-Schoch (1993)) Conclusion Market forces heavily predominate the design and evolution of the major commercial search engines. It is unsurprising that about 85% of Internet users surveyed claim to use search engines and search services to find specific information. Commercial considerations play an important role in determining the popular employment of best match searching as the default search mode. Since the majority of users of a large, general-use search engine will be untrained, casual users, it makes sense that the default setting offers the type of search that best matches the needs of these users. Here, best match searches display clear advantages over Boolean systems - most importantly the simplicity and user-friendliness of the user interface (especially when "natural language" searches are offered) and the ranking of results according to relevance. However, as long as there are remain circumstances in which a Boolean search is more effective and a customer base that is prepared to use it, it makes sense for large search engines to make this option available as an auxiliary search method. Furthermore, the same survey which showed the impressive 85% preference for search engines as the method of data retrieval, also indicated that users are not satisfied with the performance of the current generation of search engines; the slow retrieval speed, communication delays, and poor quality of retrieved results (e.g. noise and broken links) are commonly cited problems. In such a setting, the current trend towards increasing computer literacy as well as increasing reliance on the internet for many types of serious research (as opposed to casual domestic "web-surfing") might even mean an increase in the number of people who are willing to learn how to use Boolean searching in order to make such research more effective. ...read more.

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