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Summarizing and Searching Hidden-Web Databases Hierarchically Using Focused Probes

Ipeirotis, Panagiotis G.; Gravano, Luis

Many valuable text databases on the web have non-crawlable contents that are "hidden" behind search interfaces. Metasearchers are helpful tools for searching over many such databases at once through a unified query interface. A critical task for a metasearcher to process a query efficiently and effectively is the selection of the most promising databases for the query, a task that typically relies on statistical summaries of the database contents. Unfortunately, web-accessible text databases do not generally export content summaries. In this paper, we present an algorithm to derive content summaries from "uncooperative" databases by using "focused query probes," which adaptively zoom in on and extract documents that are representative of the topic coverage of the databases. The content summaries that result from this algorithm are efficient to derive and more accurate than those from previously proposed probing techniques for content-summary extraction. We also present a novel database selection algorithm that exploits both the extracted content summaries and a hierarchical classification of the databases, automatically derived during probing, to produce accurate results even for imperfect content summaries. Finally, we evaluate our techniques thoroughly using a variety of databases, including 50 real web-accessible text databases.

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Academic Units
Computer Science
Publisher
Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Series
Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports, CUCS-015-01
Published Here
April 22, 2011