Re: Challenging assertions

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 14:07:50 +0000

On Thu, 13 Mar 2008, Peter Crowther wrote:

> > From: Stevan Harnad
> >
> > (3) Do you really believe that in the online age, any prefabricated
> > classification system could ever beat boolean full-text search?
> Depends. How much automation am I allowed to have in my prefabrication,
> how often can I update it, and at *exactly* which task(s) am I supposed
> to beat Boolean full-text search? I can conceive of tasks at which
> dynamically-generated classification systems can beat text search, but
> these systems certainly aren't of the coarse grain of Dewey or LCC and
> I wouldn't expect humans to enter or update the terms.

I think Peter's point is relevant and correct:

What I meant by "prefabricated classification" was something like
Dewey hand-tagging of articles at source (the IR), a-priori.

Of course boolean search alone is beaten by boolean search PLUS
dynamically-generated supplements such as Google Page Rank, download
stats, user tags or full-text-based classification algorithms.

But not by Dewey-tagging at source; and I doubt that even boolean search
PLUS Dewey pre-tagging produces incremental gains worth the pre-tagging

(I also bet you algorithms applied to the full-text database a-posteriori,
as a whole, could generate a pseudo-Dewey classification scheme
by computation alone that was at least as good as individual Dewey
hand-tagging a-priori.)

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Mar 13 2008 - 14:08:45 GMT

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