Automatically Mapping and Integrating Multiple Data Entry Forms into a Database

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Forms are a standard way of gathering data into a database. Many applications need to support multiple users with evolving data gathering requirements. It is desirable to automatically link dynamic forms to the back-end database. We have developed the FormMapper system, a fully automatic solution that accepts user-created data entry forms, and maps and integrates them into an existing database in the same domain. The solution comprises of two components: tree extraction and form integration. The tree extraction component leverages a probabilistic process, Hidden Markov Model (HMM), for automatically extracting a semantic tree structure of a form. In the form integration component, we develop a merging procedure that maps and integrates a tree into an existing database and extends the database with desired properties. We conducted experiments evaluating the performance of the system on several large databases designed from a number of complex forms. Our experimental results show that the FormMapper system is promising: It generated databases that are highly similar (87% overlapped) to those generated by the human experts, given the same set of forms.