Exploitation de connaissances sémantiques externes dans les représentations vectorielles en recherche documentaire

The work presented in this thesis deals with several problems met in information retrieval (IR), task which one can summarise as identifying, in a collection of "documents", a subset of documents carrying a sought information, i.e.. relevant for a request expressed by a user. In the case of textual documents, to which we limited ourselves within the framework of this thesis, a significant part of the difficulty lies in ambiguity inherent to human languages. The interaction with the user is also approached in our work, by studying a tool enabling a natural language access to a database. Finally, some techniques which permit the visualisation of large collections of documents are also presented. In this document we first of all describe the principal models of IR by highlighting the relations which exist with some manual technics of IR and document retrieval, developed during the past centuries. We present the principle of document indexing, allowing us to represent documents in a multidimensional space, and the use of this representation by a vectorial model. After having reviewed the principal improvements made these last years with vectorial research systems, including the preprocessings of collections, the indexing mechanism and measurements of similarities between documents, we detail some recent usecases of additional semantic resources (semantic dictionaries, thesaurus, networks, ontologies) reported in scientific literature for the indexing task. We then present more in detail the semantic indexing principle of textual documents by using a thesaurus, consisting in integrating in the document's representation space at least part of the informational contents of hierarchical semantic resources. We propose a general framework allowing us to describe and position various possible techniques to carry out the semantic indexing by adapting, if possible, the specificity of the descriptions resulting from the semantic resources to the data to be represented. We use this framework to describe three families of criteria usable for semantic indexing, each one having its own characteristics. For each of these families, we give the specific algorithms allowing the computation of the criteria. The first two families allow us to consider several criteria already known in feature selection. Moreover we show that, unfortunately, many of these criteria are in fact not very effective for the considered task. The third family allows us to introduce a completely new criterion, the Minimum Redundancy Cut criterion (MRC), built on the basis of the information theory and allowing us to obtain index terms having a probability of occurrence in the collection of documents as well balanced as possible. Finally, we treat the case of semantic index independent of the data (statically choosen), allowing a parameterisation of the level of generality of the index terms. Some of the criteria suggested for semantic indexing has been empirically evaluated. To judge their relevance, we used a well known vectorial system (the Smart IR system) and measured the performances of IR obtained with various reference collections. Those collections was indexed on the basis of the studied criterion, by taking into account the strongly structuring semantic relation of hyper/hyponymy ("is-a" relation), given by two different semantic resources. By comparing results obtained with the performances of a traditional indexing (using the lemmas of the words as representation space), we can show on one hand the relevance of the semantic indexings (in RD) and on the other hand the quality of the proposed criterion (MRC). Concerning man-machine interaction, we present a general outline allowing to build in a relatively fast and systematic way systems with mixed initiative, giving the human user a large (and natural) latitude in the control of the dialogue. This outline is usable in typical database research-task applications (where the database is hidden to the user, but the latter knows exactly which information they wish to find) as well as advice-task applications, for which the users does not necessarily have a precise idea of their needs, and uses the system not only for specifing their wishes, but also a set of propositions as a final result. We particularly stress the techniques allowing us to obtain a robust system, able to deal with speech recognizer failures. Concerning the visualisation of large textual data collections, we present an application of the correspondences analysis (allowing to highlight similarities and oppositions for various groups of entity, built on the basis of additional features present in the DB) to the case of patents data. In addition, we propose a method (based on the bootstrap replication principle) allowing us to determine a confidence interval for relative positionings of various groups, thus permit to immediately judge the reliability of the visually apparent similarities or oppositions.

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