An Investigation into User Text Query and Text Descriptor Construction

Author: Darius Mark Pfitzner

Pfitzner, Darius Mark, 2009 An Investigation into User Text Query and Text Descriptor Construction, Flinders University, School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics

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Cognitive limitations such as those described in Miller's (1956) work on channel capacity and Cowen's (2001) on short-term memory are factors in determining user cognitive load and in turn task performance. Inappropriate user cognitive load can reduce user efficiency in goal realization. For instance, if the user's attentional capacity is not appropriately applied to the task, distractor processing can tend to appropriate capacity from it. Conversely, if a task drives users beyond their short-term memory envelope, information loss may be realized in its translation to long-term memory and subsequent retrieval for task base processing. To manage user cognitive capacity in the task of text search the interface should allow users to draw on their powerful and innate pattern recognition abilities. This harmonizes with Johnson-Laird's (1983) proposal that propositional representation is tied to mental models. Combined with the theory that knowledge is highly organized when stored in memory an appropriate approach for cognitive load optimization would be to graphically present single documents, or clusters thereof, with an appropriate number and type of descriptors. These descriptors are commonly words and/or phrases. Information theory research suggests that words have different levels of importance in document topic differentiation. Although key word identification is well researched, there is a lack of basic research into human preference regarding query formation and the heuristics users employ in search. This lack extends to features as elementary as the number of words preferred to describe and/or search for a document. Contrastive understanding these preferences will help balance processing overheads of tasks like clustering against user cognitive load to realize a more efficient document retrieval process. Common approaches such as search engine log analysis cannot provide this degree of understanding and do not allow clear identification of the intended set of target documents. This research endeavours to improve the manner in which text search returns are presented so that user performance under real world situations is enhanced. To this end we explore both how to appropriately present search information and results graphically to facilitate optimal cognitive and perceptual load/utilization, as well as how people use textual information in describing documents or constructing queries.

Keywords: Cognitive Load,Text Search,HCI,Search Engines,Search Optimisation,Keyword Extraction,Document Summarisation
Subject: Computer Science thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2009
School: School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Supervisor: Professor David MW Powers