Learning about the World through Long-Term Query Logs

Matthew Richardson

ACM Transactions on the Web | , Vol 2

In this article, we demonstrate the value of long-term query logs. Most work on query logs to date considers only short-term (within-session) query information. In contrast, we show that long-term query logs can be used to learn about the world we live in. There are many applications of this that lead not only to improving the search engine for its users, but also potentially to advances in other disciplines such as medicine, sociology, economics, and more. In this article, we will show how long-term query logs can be used for these purposes, and that their potential is severely reduced if the logs are limited to short time horizons. We show that query effects are long-lasting, provide valuable information, and might be used to automatically make medical discoveries, build concept hierarchies, and generally learn about the sociological behavior of its users. We believe these applications are only the beginning of what can be done with the information contained in long-term query logs, and see this work as a step toward unlocking their potential.