Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Indexing Heterogeneous XML for Full-Text Search

Miro Lehtonen

Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Computer Science.

XML documents are becoming more and more common in various environments. In particular, enterprise-scale document management is commonly centred around XML, and desktop applications as well as online document collections are soon to follow. The growing number of XML documents increases the importance of appropriate indexing methods and search tools in keeping the information accessible. Therefore, we focus on content that is stored in XML format as we develop such indexing methods.

Because XML is used for different kinds of content ranging all the way from records of data fields to narrative full-texts, the methods for Information Retrieval are facing a new challenge in identifying which content is subject to data queries and which should be indexed for full-text search. In response to this challenge, we analyse the relation of character content and XML tags in XML documents in order to separate the full-text from data. As a result, we are able to both reduce the size of the index by 5-6\% and improve the retrieval precision as we select the XML fragments to be indexed.

Besides being challenging, XML comes with many unexplored opportunities which are not paid much attention in the literature. For example, authors often tag the content they want to emphasise by using a typeface that stands out. The tagged content constitutes phrases that are descriptive of the content and useful for full-text search. They are simple to detect in XML documents, but also possible to confuse with other inline-level text. Nonetheless, the search results seem to improve when the detected phrases are given additional weight in the index. Similar improvements are reported when related content is associated with the indexed full-text including titles, captions, and references.

Experimental results show that for certain types of document collections, at least, the proposed methods help us find the relevant answers. Even when we know nothing about the document structure but the XML syntax, we are able to take advantage of the XML structure when the content is indexed for full-text search.

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Last updated 27.10.2006

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