, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 85-108

Automatic discovery of Web Query Interfaces using machine learning techniques

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The amount of information contained in databases available on the Web has grown explosively in the last years. This information, known as the Deep Web, is heterogeneous and dynamically generated by querying these back-end (relational) databases through Web Query Interfaces (WQIs) that are a special type of HTML forms. The problem of accessing to the information of Deep Web is a great challenge because the information existing usually is not indexed by general-purpose search engines. Therefore, it is necessary to create efficient mechanisms to access, extract and integrate information contained in the Deep Web. Since WQIs are the only means to access to the Deep Web, the automatic identification of WQIs plays an important role. It facilitates traditional search engines to increase the coverage and the access to interesting information not available on the indexable Web. The accurate identification of Deep Web data sources are key issues in the information retrieval process. In this paper we propose a new strategy for automatic discovery of WQIs. This novel proposal makes an adequate selection of HTML elements extracted from HTML forms, which are used in a set of heuristic rules that help to identify WQIs. The proposed strategy uses machine learning algorithms for classification of searchable (WQIs) and non-searchable (non-WQI) HTML forms using a prototypes selection algorithm that allows to remove irrelevant or redundant data in the training set. The internal content of Web Query Interfaces was analyzed with the objective of identifying only those HTML elements that are frequently appearing provide relevant information for the WQIs identification. For testing, we use three groups of datasets, two available at the UIUC repository and a new dataset that we created using a generic crawler supported by human experts that includes advanced and simple query interfaces. The experimental results show that the proposed strategy outperforms others previously reported works.