Human Interaction Simulator Software for Information Retrieval Research
Pääkkönen, Teemu Juhani
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Käyttäjävuorovaikutuksen Simulointisovellus Tiedonhaun Tutkimukseen
The concept of Information Retrieval deals with the obtaining of information from information sources, such as libraries, archives, databases, or the internet. It is a widely studied subject. Interactive Information Retrieval is the process where users interact with a search engine, using its interface to make queries in order to find documents relevant to their information needs. Interactive Information Retrieval experimentation with real human users is costly, requiring time and money, and often runs into problems stemming from the use of human subjects. In lieu of human users, the experiments can be conducted via simulation. Simulations have been widely used in Information Retrieval research, but none of the previous simulators have been useful for generic research for various reasons. In this thesis, due to the unavailability of generic purpose simulators, a project to create an Interactive Information Retrieval simulator software was carried out. The software was designed to support generic user modelling via a purpose-built language that describes the user model. The language was designed to support nearly any kind of user model that may be used in an Information Retrieval context. The finished software was evaluated by running experiments with an established user model that has been previously used in Information Retrieval studies. The software was found to be able to replicate the results of the human users without significant statistical difference. However, the exact behaviour of the human users could not be replicated very accurately. Nonetheless, the software was found to serve its purpose well, being a useful tool for Information Retrieval research.