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Graphical Method for Facet Refinement in Search Applications Disclosure Number: IPCOM000181964D
Original Publication Date: 2009-Apr-21
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2009-Apr-21
Document File: 2 page(s) / 93K

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An interaction method is disclosed to enable users to generate a complex query against an indexed collection of data without knowledge of query syntax through direct keyword entry and spontaneous discovery of frequent and highly correlated data entities by means of an intuitive graphical interaction.

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Graphical Method for Facet Refinement in Search Applications

In search applications where text analytics are done, you will often see facet data displayed in a tree structure on the left hand side which allows the user to drill down and narrow their search results. This is often seen on shopping sites like, where you will search and see categories of products on the left along with counts. When one of these is clicked, the search is refined to include only those items which are in that category. This is a very convenient method for narrowing results and is common throughout the web. The drawback of this approach is that the user is limited to only selecting a single category (facet) at a time. If a user searches for 'coffee' on, they can click to only show results in the Gourmet Food category or in the Grocery category, but not both. Also, they have no way to indicate that they do not want to see results in the Books category. We needed to expand this concept to give the user greater flexibility and control while still retaining the intuitive refinement that this paradigm provides.

Our idea was to expand the concept of faceted search refinement to give the user the ability to add multiple facet terms to the query. The common implementation would effectively add a boolean AND clause to the existing query to refine the result set. Using the example above, if the query were 'coffee' and the user clicked 'Gourmet Food', the query would be something like 'coffee' AND category:"Gourmet Food". We wanted to give the user the ability to create more complicated queries in a graphical way. Using our new mechanism, the user could generate a query like 'coffee' AND category:("Gourmet Food" OR "Grocery") AND NOT category:("Books").

Another issue with the existing implementation is that once the user refines by a particular category, such as "Gourmet Food", they cannot then click "Grocery" to get the same behavior because the result set will have changed and there may no longer be any results which are in the group "Grocery". Our method allows the user the greatest degree of flexibility for building complex queries without needing to edit the query syntax.

The preferred embodiment lists the facets with counts next to 2 icons: a plus and a minus. The user can click either...