From Exploration to Sensemaking: an Interactive Exploratory Search System

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Perustieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
Machine Learning and Data Mining
Degree programme
Master’s Programme in Machine Learning and Data Mining (Macadamia)
exist to satisfy people's information needs. Many search systems have been designed for well-formed and explicit information needs but few for exploratory purposes. By exploration, we mean the information need is ambiguous initially and evolves during the search process. There are mainly two parts within the thesis. In the first part, we will develop an interactive exploratory search system for the arXiv database, an open e-print archive for scientific articles. The part is mostly based on an initial study, in which a search engine, Scinet, based on an intent estimation model is proposed. With this search engine, users can direct their exploration by giving feedbacks to the estimated search intents, which are represented by relevant keywords. Intents are visualized and arranged into a radial layout where the radius measures relevance and the angle measures similarity. Users can drag a keyword closer to the center to indicate higher relevance or click on a keyword to assign full relevance and then the retrieved documents will be updated accordingly. Compared to the initial search system, a mind-map functionality is also added as a new feature. With this mind-map, users can temporarily store the keywords or titles that they find interesting. To verify the interactive exploratory ability, we have designed and conducted a small-scale experiment based on the arXiv dataset. Particularly, the keywords for arXiv articles are extracted by an automatic keyword extraction algorithm since most of the arXiv articles do not provide keywords by the authors. For the second part, we investigate a potential novel functionality of the Scinet search system on a large database of scientific articles. The ability of the system to support information seeking was shown in previous publication. Here we propose that this system will also support sensemaking, namely, help users to make sense of the results. We suggest that this advantage arises because in Scinet, not only are intents estimated but also the relationships between them are indicated on the interface. In order to better support sensemaking, the new functionality is also added to the prototype system in the initial study. We believe that this search system will help people to better understand and interpret the search results.
Kaski , Samuel
Thesis advisor
Peltonen, Jaakko
exploratory search system, interaction, visualization, sensemaking
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