Book indexes and tables of contents are
useful, but of necessity general.
Researchers from Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) have given ebooks
a more comprehensive index and table of contents tool that combines keyword
searching and concept searching.
The system, dubbed ScentIndex, generates custom indexes and tables
of contents organized according to a set of keywords that the user enters
to describe the concepts she is interested in. The custom entries are
drawn from the original manually-generated book index entries.
When a user enters a set of keywords, the system narrows down
its index of thousands of entries to a single page's worth of a few dozen
entries and displays them for the user. Keywords are also highlighted
within the text of the ebook.
The researchers carried out a user study of the system using the
non-fiction ebook Biohazard. The study showed that an ebook outfitted
with the ability to custom generate tables of contents and indexes made
for a faster and more accurate way to search through text than the physical
book, largely by narrowing down the number of entries that the user searched
through to find a correct answer.
The researchers' algorithm narrows down the entry using a word
co-occurrence matrix to extract entries from the index that are conceptually
relevant to the keywords, according to the researchers.
The work was presented at the Computer-Human Interaction (CHI)
2004 conference in Vienna, Austria, April 24 to 29.
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