Escaping the Trap of Too Precise Topic Queries

  • Paul Libbrecht
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7961)


At the very center of digital mathematics libraries lie controlled vocabularies which qualify the topic of the documents. These topics are used when submitting a document to a digital mathematics library and to perform searches in a library. The latter are refined by the use of these topics as they allow a precise classification of the mathematics area this document addresses. However, there is a major risk that users employ too precise topics to specify their queries: they may be employing a topic that is only ”close-by” but missing to match the right resource. We call this the topic trap. Indeed, since 2009, this issue has appeared frequently on the platform. Other mathematics portals experience the same phenomenon. An approach to solve this issue is to introduce tolerance in the way queries are understood by the user. In particular, the approach of including fuzzy matches but this introduces noise which may prevent the user of understanding the function of the search engine.

In this paper, we propose a way to escape the topic trap by employing the navigation between related topics and the count of search results for each topic. This supports the user in that search for close-by topics is a click away from a previous search. This approach was realized with the i2geo search engine and is described in detail where the relation of being related is computed by employing textual analysis of the definitions of the concepts fetched from the Wikipedia encyclopedia.


mathematical documents search topics search web mathematics library search user interface learning resources mathematics classifications mathematics subjects 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Libbrecht
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Educational Research in Mathematics And Technology (CERMAT)Martin Luther University Halle-WittenbergGermany

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