To tackle the complex search tasks, we try to identify task’ states and study the connection between states and search behaviors. We found that the task state can be predicted from the user’s search behaviors. Read about our study in this article by Jiqun Liu, Shawon Sarkar, and Chirag Shah:
Complex search tasks that involve uncertain solution space and multi-round search iterations are integral to everyday life and information-intensive workplace practices, affecting how people learn, work, and resolve problematic situations. However, current search systems still face plenty of challenges when applied in supporting users engaging in complex search tasks. To address this issue, we seek to explore the dynamic nature of complex search tasks from process-oriented perspective by identifying and predicting implicit task states. Specifically, based upon the Web search logs and user annotation data (regarding information seeking intentions in local search steps, in-situ search problems, and help needed) collected from 132 search sessions in two controlled lab studies, we developed two task state frameworks based on intention state and problem-help state respectively and examined the connection between task states and search behaviors. We report that (1) complex search tasks of different types can be deconstructed and disambiguated based on the associated nonlinear state transition patterns; and (2) the identified task states that cover multiple subtle factors of user cognition can be predicted from search behavioral signals using supervised learning algorithms. This study reveals the way in which complex search tasks are unfolded and manifested in users’ search interactions and paves the way for developing state-aware adaptive search supports and system evaluation frameworks.
It’s getting increasingly more important to understand, evaluate, and perhaps rethink our search results as they continue to show bias of various kinds. Given that so much of our decision-making relies on search engine results, this is a problem that touches almost all aspects of our lives. Read about some of our new works in a new article by InfoSeekers Ruoyuan Gao and Chirag Shah:
With the increasing popularity and social influence of search engines in IR, various studies have raised concerns on the presence of bias in search engines and the social responsibilities of IR systems. As an essential component of search engine, ranking is a crucial mechanism in presenting the search results or recommending items in a fair fashion. In this article, we focus on the top-k diversity fairness ranking in terms of statistical parity fairness and disparate impact fairness. The former fairness definition provides a balanced overview of search results where the number of documents from different groups are equal; The latter enables a realistic overview where the proportion of documents from different groups reflect the overall proportion. Using 100 queries and top 100 results per query from Google as the data, we first demonstrate how topical diversity bias is present in the top web search results. Then, with our proposed entropy-based metrics for measuring the degree of bias, we reveal that the top search results are unbalanced and disproportionate to their overall diversity distribution. We explore several fairness ranking strategies to investigate the relationship between fairness, diversity, novelty and relevance. Our experimental results show that using a variant of fair ε-greedy strategy, we could bring more fairness and enhance diversity in search results without a cost of relevance. In fact, we can improve the relevance and diversity by introducing the diversity fairness. Additional experiments with TREC datasets containing 50 queries demonstrate the robustness of our proposed strategies and our findings on the impact of fairness. We present a series of correlation analysis on the amount of fairness and diversity, showing that statistical parity fairness highly correlates with diversity while disparate impact fairness does not. This provides clear and tangible implications for future works where one would want to balance fairness, diversity and relevance in search results.