, Volume 111, Issue 3, pp 1267–1285 | Cite as

A visualization tool of patent topic evolution using a growing cell structure neural network

  • Hui-Yun Sung
  • Hsi-Yin Yeh
  • Jin-Kwan Lin
  • Ssu-Han ChenEmail author


This research used a cell structure map to visualize technological evolution and showed the developmental trend in a technological field. The basic concept was to organize patents into a map produced by growing cell structures. The map was then disassembled into clusters with similar contexts using the Girvan–Newman algorithm. Next, the continuity between clusters in two snapshots was identified and used as the base for establishing a trajectory in the technology. An analysis of patents in the flaw detection field found that the field was composed of several technological trajectories. Among them, ultrasonic flaw detection, wafer inspection and substrate inspection were relatively larger and more continuing technologies, while infrared thermography defect inspection has been an emerging topic in recent years. It is to be hoped that the map of technology constructed in this research provides insights into the history of technological evolution and helps explain the transition patterns through changes in cluster continuity. This can serve a reference point by experts who attempt to visualize the mapping of technological development or identify the latest focus of attention.


Technology map Growing cell structures Neural networks Girvan–Newman algorithm Natural language processing 



The authors thank Professor Julie Callaert, the guest editor of Scientometrics, and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on an early version of this article. This research was partially supported by Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology [MOST 104-2221-E-131-012].


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hui-Yun Sung
    • 1
  • Hsi-Yin Yeh
    • 2
  • Jin-Kwan Lin
    • 3
  • Ssu-Han Chen
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Graduate Institute of Library and Information ScienceNational Chung Hsing UniversityTaichung CityTaiwan, ROC
  2. 2.National Applied Research Laboratories Science and Technology Policy Research and Information CenterPolicy Research DivisionTaipeiTaiwan, ROC
  3. 3.Department of Business and ManagementMing Chi University of TechnologyNew Taipei CityTaiwan, ROC
  4. 4.Department of Industrial Engineering and ManagementMing Chi University of TechnologyNew Taipei CityTaiwan, ROC

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