Probability models for information retrieval based on divergence from randomness
This thesis devises a novel methodology based on probability theory, suitable for the construction of term-weighting models of Information Retrieval. Our term-weighting functions are created within a general framework made up of three components. Each of the three components is built independently from the others. We obtain the term-weighting functions from the general model in a purely theoretic way instantiating each component with different probability distribution forms. The thesis begins with investigating the nature of the statistical inference involved in Information Retrieval. We explore the estimation problem underlying the process of sampling. De Finetti’s theorem is used to show how to convert the frequentist approach into Bayesian inference and we display and employ the derived estimation techniques in the context of Information Retrieval. We initially pay a great attention to the construction of the basic sample spaces of Information Retrieval. The notion of single or multiple sampling from different populations in the context of Information Retrieval is extensively discussed and used through-out the thesis. The language modelling approach and the standard probabilistic model are studied under the same foundational view and are experimentally compared to the divergence-from-randomness approach. In revisiting the main information retrieval models in the literature, we show that even language modelling approach can be exploited to assign term-frequency normalization to the models of divergence from randomness. We finally introduce a novel framework for the query expansion. This framework is based on the models of divergence-from-randomness and it can be applied to arbitrary models of IR, divergence-based, language modelling and probabilistic models included. We have done a very large number of experiment and results show that the framework generates highly effective Information Retrieval models.