A formal model for personalities, adaptive hyperlink-based systems
The attraction of hyperlink-based interaction as a model for information retrieval has long
been recognised and has increased in popularity with the mainstream emergence of largescale
hypermedia systems such as the World-Wide Web (WWW). For hypermedia systems
to realise their full potential, researchers have postulated that such systems should exhibit
sophisticated, knowledge-based personalisation and adaptation (P&A) features, without
which users’ information retrieval goals are less likely to be achieved. As a result of these
postulations, personalisable, adaptive hyperlink-based systems (PA-HLBSs) have arisen
as a new topic of hypermedia research.
This dissertation contributes a novel abstract approach to the formal characterisation of
the interaction process which takes place between the user of a hyperlink-based system
(HLBS) and the system itself.
This research addresses the issue of how hyperlink-based systems can be endowed with
features which enable the personalisation and adaptation of the interaction process. This
research also addresses the specific issue of how to characterise precisely the emergent
properties of HLBSs and thereby make possible a systematic, principled and exhaustive
elicitation of the space of possible P&A actions.
The approach is unique in formally modelling a rich set of abstract user-initiated P&A
actions which enable individual users to come closer to satisfying their specific, and often
dynamic, information retrieval goals. Furthermore, the model indicates how systeminitiated
P&A actions fit cohesively and non-disruptively with user-initiated ones.
The model proposed is descriptive, rather than prescriptive, and is cast at a level of
abstraction above that of concrete systems exploring current technologies. The model
aims to be the foundation for a systematic investigation of the nature, scope and effects
of user and system-initiated tailoring actions on HLBSs for information retrieval. Such an
approach, it is hoped, will allow for user and system-initiated P&A actions to be studied
with greater conceptual clarity than is possible with technology-driven experimentation.
The dissertation also contains a brief overview of PAS, a personalisable HLBS which
instantiates the major aspects of the proposed model, thereby substantiating the claim
that the abstract approach taken allows not only for a greater understanding of what
personalisation and adaptivity means in the context of HLBSs, but also how the model
may aid the design of such systems.