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Belief revision for adaptive information agents

Lau, Raymond Yiu Keung (2003) Belief revision for adaptive information agents. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


As the richness and diversity of information available to us in our everyday lives has expanded, so the need to manage this information grows. The lack of effective information management tools has given rise to what is colloquially known as the information overload problem. Intelligent agent technologies have been explored to develop personalised tools for autonomous information retrieval (IR). However, these so-called adaptive information agents are still primitive in terms of their learning autonomy, inference power, and explanatory capabilities. For instance, users often need to provide large amounts of direct relevance feedback to train the agents before these agents can acquire the users' specific information requirements. Existing information agents are also weak in dealing with the serendipity issue in IR because they cannot infer document relevance with respect to the possibly related IR contexts. This thesis exploits the theories and technologies from the fields of Information Retrieval (IR), Symbolic Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Agents for the development of the next generation of adaptive information agents to alleviate the problem of information overload. In particular, the fundamental issues such as representation, learning, and classjfication (e.g., classifying documents as relevant or not) pertaining to these agents are examined. The design of the adaptive information agent model stems from a basic intuition in IR. By way of illustration, given the retrieval context involving a science student, and a query "Java", what information items should an intelligent information agent recommend to its user? The agent should recommend documents about "Computer Programming" if it believes that its user is a computer science student and every computer science student needs to learn programming. However, if the agent later discovers that its user is studying "volcanology", and the agent also believes that volcanists are interested in the volcanos in Java, the agent may recommend documents about "Merapi" (a volcano in Java with a recent eruption in 1994). This scenario illustrates that a retrieval context is not only about a set of terms and their frequencies but also the relationships among terms (e.g., java ? science ? computer, computer ? programming, java ? science ? volcanology ? merapi, etc.) In addition, retrieval contexts represented in information agents should be revised in accordance with the changing information requirements of the users. Therefore, to enhance the adaptive and proactive IR behaviour of information agents, an expressive representation language is needed to represent complex retrieval contexts and an effective learning mechanism is required to revise the agents' beliefs about the changing retrieval contexts. Moreover, a sound reasoning mechanism is essential for information agents to infer document relevance with respect to some retrieval contexts to enhance their proactiveness and learning autonomy. The theory of belief revision advocated by Alchourrón, Gärdenfors, and Makinson (AGM) provides a rigorous formal foundation to model evolving retrieval contexts in terms of changing epistemic states in adaptive information agents. The expressive power of the AGM framework allows sufficient details of retrieval contexts to be captured. Moreover, the AGM framework enforces the principles of minimal and consistent belief changes. These principles coincide with the requirements of modelling changing information retrieval contexts. The AGM belief revision logic has a close connection with the Logical Uncertainty Principle which describes the fundamental approach for logic-based IR models. Accordingly, the AGM belief functions are applied to develop the learning components of adaptive information agents. Expectationinference which is characterised by axioms leading to conservatively monotonic IR behaviour plays a significant role in developing the agents' classification components. Because of the direct connection between the AGM belief functions and the expectation inference relations, seamless integration of the information agents' learning and classification components is made possible. Essentially, the learning functions and the classification functions of adaptive information agents are conceptualised by and q d respectively. This conceptualisation can be interpreted as: (1) learning is the process of revising the representation K of a retrieval context with respect to a user's relevance feedback q which can be seen as a refined query; (2) classification is the process of determining the degree of relevance of a document d with respect to the refined query q given the agent's expectation (i.e., beliefs) K about the retrieval context. At the computational level, how to induce epistemic entrenchment which defines the AGM belief functions, and how to implement the AGM belief functions by means of an effective and efficient computational algorithm are among the core research issues addressed. Automated methods of discovering context sensitive term associations such as (computer ? programming) and preclusion relations such as (volcanology /? programming) are explored. In addition, an effective classification method which is underpinned by expectation inference is developed for adaptive information agents. Last but not least, quantitative evaluations, which are based on well-known IR bench-marking processes, are applied to examine the performance of the prototype agent system. The performance of the belief revision based information agent system is compared with that of a vector space based agent system and other adaptive information filtering systems participated in TREC-7. As a whole, encouraging results are obtained from our initial experiments.

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ID Code: 15789
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: ter Hofstede, Arthur& Bruza, Peter
Keywords: Adaptive Information Agents, Information Retrieval, Information Filtering
Department: Faculty of Information Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Raymond Yiu Keung Lau
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 13:49
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:38

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