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Dagobert Soergel
College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Indexing and retrieval performance: The logical evidence

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This paper presents a logical analysis of the characteristics of indexing and their effects on retrieval performance. It establishes the ability to ask the questions one needs to ask as the foundation of performance evaluation, and recall and discrimination as the basic quantitative performance measures for binary non-interactive retrieval systems. It then defines the characteristics of indexing that affect retrieval ?namely, indexing devices, viewpoint-based and importance-based indexing exhaustivity, indexing specificity, indexing correctness, and indexing consistency ?and examines in detail their effects on retrieval. It concludes that retrieval performance depends chiefly on the match between indexing and the requirements of the individual query and on the adaptation of the query formulation to the characteristics of the retrieval system, and that the ensuing complexity must be considered in the design and testing of retrieval systems.
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