12.9.3. Full-Text Searches with Query Expansion

Full-text search supports query expansion (and in particular, its variant "blind query expansion"). This is generally useful when a search phrase is too short, which often means that the user is relying on implied knowledge that the full-text search engine lacks. For example, a user searching for "database" may really mean that "MySQL", "Oracle", "DB2", and "RDBMS" all are phrases that should match "databases" and should be returned, too. This is implied knowledge.

Blind query expansion (also known as automatic relevance feedback) is enabled by adding WITH QUERY EXPANSION or IN NATURAL LANGUAGE MODE WITH QUERY EXPANSION following the search phrase. It works by performing the search twice, where the search phrase for the second search is the original search phrase concatenated with the few most highly relevant documents from the first search. Thus, if one of these documents contains the word "databases" and the word "MySQL", the second search finds the documents that contain the word "MySQL" even if they do not contain the word "database". The following example shows this difference:

mysql> SELECT * FROM
        articles    WHERE MATCH (title,body)    AGAINST ('database' IN NATURAL LANGUAGE MODE);+----+-------------------+------------------------------------------+| id | title             | body                                     |+----+-------------------+------------------------------------------+|  1 | MySQL Tutorial    | DBMS stands for DataBase ...             ||  5 | MySQL vs. YourSQL | In the following database comparison ... |+----+-------------------+------------------------------------------+2 rows in set (0.00 sec)mysql> SELECT * FROM articles    WHERE
        MATCH (title,body)    AGAINST ('database' WITH QUERY
        EXPANSION);+----+-----------------------+------------------------------------------+| id | title                 | body                                     |+----+-----------------------+------------------------------------------+|  5 | MySQL vs. YourSQL     | In the following database comparison ... ||  1 | MySQL Tutorial        | DBMS stands for DataBase ...             ||  3 | Optimizing MySQL      | In this tutorial we will show ...        ||  6 | MySQL Security        | When configured properly, MySQL ...      ||  2 | How To Use MySQL Well | After you went through a ...             ||  4 | 1001 MySQL Tricks     | 1. Never run mysqld as root. 2. ...      |+----+-----------------------+------------------------------------------+6 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Another example could be searching for books by Georges Simenon about Maigret, when a user is not sure how to spell "Maigret". A search for "Megre and the reluctant witnesses" finds only "Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses" without query expansion. A search with query expansion finds all books with the word "Maigret" on the second pass.

Note

Because blind query expansion tends to increase noise significantly by returning nonrelevant documents, use it only when a search phrase is short.




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