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Weighting the index relation

The simplest notion of an index is binary - either a keyword is associated with a document or it is not. But it is natural to imagine degrees of \about-ness. We will capture this strength with a single real number, a {\em weight}, capturing the strength of the relationship between keyword and document. This weight can be used in two different ways. One example is to reduce the number of links to only the most significant relationships. In this respect a weighted indexing system is a more general formulation than a binary formulation; we can always go to a binary relation from the weighted one. This might make weights useful even if our retrieval method was Boolean (as it often was in early IR systems). But today the more common reason for using a weighted indexing relation is that the retrieval method can exploit these weights directly.

One way to describe what this number means is probabilistic - we seek a measure of a document's relevance, conditionalized on the belief that a keyword is relevant: \[ w_{kd} \propto \Pr(d \mathrm{\ relevant\ } | \ k \mathrm{\ relevant}) \] Note that this is a \emph{directed} relation: we may or may not believe that the symmetric relation: \[ w_{dk} \propto \Pr(k \mathrm{\ relevant\ }\ | \ d \mathrm{\ relevant}) \] should be the same. Unless specified otherwise, when we refer to a weight $w$ we will intend it to mean $w_{kd}$.

In order to compute statistical estimates for such probabalities we define several important quantities: f_{kd} & \equiv & \mathrm{number of occurrences of keyword} k \mathrm{in document}d \nonumber \\ f_{k} & \equiv & \mathrm{total number of occurrences of keyword} k \mathrm{acros entire corpus} \nonumber \\ D_{k} & \equiv & \mathrm{number of documents containing keyword} k

We will make two demands on the weight reflecting the degree to which a document is about a particular keyword/topic. The first one goes back to Luhn's central observation [Luhn61] : Repetition is an indication of emphasis. If an author uses a word frequently, it is because he or she thinks it's important. Define $f_{kd}$ to be the number of occurrences of keyword $k$ in a document $d$.

Our second concern is that a keyword be a useful discriminator within the context of the corpus. Capturing this notion of corpus-context statistically proves much more difficult; for now we simply give it the name $\mathname{discrim}_k$.

Since we care about both, we will devise our weight to be the { product} of the two factors, corresponding to their conjunction: w_{kd} \propto f_{kd} \cdot \mathname{discrim}_k

We will now consider several different index weighting schemes that have been suggested over the years. These all share the same reliance on $f_{kd}$ as a measure of keyword importance within the document, and the same product form as Equation (FOAref) . What they do not share is how best to quantify the discrimination power $\mathname{discrim}_k_k\ $ of the keyword.


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