Tropical cyclone or ISU Cyclone? Semantic science search engine knows that there is a difference

Feb 04, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Almost everyone who has used a major internet search engine has had the same experience: Search for "Dodge convertible" and 0.16 seconds later you have 4.3 million links to web pages on dodge ball, Dodge City and convertible debt instruments.

Noesis, a new semantic web search engine developed at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, won't help you find the perfect Charger ragtop, but it is helping scientists who study the environment retrieve the research data they need. It has the potential to help scientists and researchers in many other fields perform more focused and productive searches.

"This is the first semantic scientific search tool, the first time something like this has been used for science," said Dr. Rahul Ramachandran, a research scientist in UAHuntsville's Information Technology and Systems Center.

Noesis replaces the simple word-or-phrase matching search used by most search engines with a discipline-specific semantic "ontology," or knowledge base.

Using Noesis, for instance, an aquatic botantist searching for Mobile Bay sea grass might get a list of additional terms narrowing the search based on taxonomy, location or water type, while filtering out websites offering sea grass mats, oils and lotions that leave your skin silky smooth.

Both the terminology and the structure of relationships between terms in the ontology help Noesis narrow a search to items related to the specific field of study. The algorithm might not understand the difference between tropical cyclone and Iowa State Cyclone, but it will recognize that there is a difference.

"Building an ontology is not an insignificant task," Ramachandran said. "Usually you get the experts together, then they argue and decide what concepts and information to include, and how it is organized. Then we encode it so our system can take it and use it."

While it narrows the search terms, Noesis also broadens the search by adding datasets and scientific publications not routinely included in web searches.

"There are some things you have to configure for a particular domain, such as the specific journals and major data catalogues," said Ramachandran. "It gets complicated fast."

Even in scientific circles, the semantic search has advantages: "In some datasets they might refer to one set of readings as temperature while another site might use sea surface temperature or SST. With a normal search engine you would never see one if you search for the other. What we have is the ontology that does all of that matching for you."

While the first three projects using the Noesis system are all related to meteorology or environmental science, Ramachandran says the system can be adapted to any branch of science or research.

"Everything is the same except the ontology," he said. "It can be configured to different domains for different projects. The hope for the future is there will be a growth of these small ontologies."

Provided by University of Alabama in Huntsville

Explore further: Forging a photo is easy, but how do you spot a fake?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Senators get no clear answers on air bag safety

2 hours ago

There were apologies and long-winded explanations, but after nearly four hours of testimony about exploding Takata air bags, senators never got a clear answer to the question most people have: whether or ...

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

3 hours ago

Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

Former Brown dean whose group won Nobel Prize dies

3 hours ago

David Greer, a doctor who co-founded a group that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for working to prevent nuclear war and who helped transform the medical school at Brown University, has died. He was 89.

Recommended for you

Forging a photo is easy, but how do you spot a fake?

Nov 21, 2014

Faking photographs is not a new phenomenon. The Cottingley Fairies seemed convincing to some in 1917, just as the images recently broadcast on Russian television, purporting to be satellite images showin ...

Algorithm, not live committee, performs author ranking

Nov 21, 2014

Thousands of authors' works enter the public domain each year, but only a small number of them end up being widely available. So how to choose the ones taking center-stage? And how well can a machine-learning ...

Professor proposes alternative to 'Turing Test'

Nov 19, 2014

(Phys.org) —A Georgia Tech professor is offering an alternative to the celebrated "Turing Test" to determine whether a machine or computer program exhibits human-level intelligence. The Turing Test - originally ...

Image descriptions from computers show gains

Nov 18, 2014

"Man in black shirt is playing guitar." "Man in blue wetsuit is surfing on wave." "Black and white dog jumps over bar." The picture captions were not written by humans but through software capable of accurately ...

Converting data into knowledge

Nov 17, 2014

When a movie-streaming service recommends a new film you might like, sometimes that recommendation becomes a new favorite; other times, the computer's suggestion really misses the mark. Yisong Yue, assistant ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.