Generating exact- and ranked partially-matched answers to questions in advertisements

Rani Qumsiyeh*, Maria S. Pera, Yiu Kai Ng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Taking advantage of the Web, many advertisements (ads for short) websites, which aspire to increase client's transactions and thus profits, offer searching tools which allow users to (i) post keyword queries to capture their information needs or (ii) invoke form-based interfaces to create queries by selecting search options, such as a price range, filled-in entries, check boxes, or drop-down menus. These search mechanisms, however, are inadequate, since they cannot be used to specify a natural-language query with rich syntactic and semantic content, which can only be handled by a question answering (QA) system. Furthermore, existing ads websites are incapable of evaluating arbitrary Boolean queries or retrieving partiallymatched answers that might be of interest to the user whenever a user's search yields only a few or no results at all. In solving these problems, we present a QA system for ads, called CQAds, which (i) allows users to post a natural-language question Q for retrieving relevant ads, if they exist, (ii) identifies ads as answers that partially-match the requested information expressed in Q, if insufficient or no answers to Q can be retrieved, which are ordered using a similarity-ranking approach, and (iii) analyzes incomplete or ambiguous questions to perform the "best guess" in retrieving answers that "best match" the selection criteria specified in Q. CQAds is also equipped with a Boolean model to evaluate Boolean operators that are either explicitly or implicitly specified in Q, i.e., with or without Boolean operators specified by the users, respectively. CQAds is easy to use, scalable to all ads domains, and more powerful than search tools provided by existing ads websites, since its query-processing strategy retrieves relevant ads of higher quality and quantity. We have verified the accuracy of CQAds in retrieving ads on eight ads domains and compared its ranking strategy with other well-known ranking approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-228
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the VLDB Endowment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


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