Evaluating the ‘Search Road not Taken’ Can Optimize Results, Paper Says

DENVER—May 17, 2011—Everyone at some point ponders the path not taken. We can only wonder what might have been. But what if we could know where each path might take us before we had to choose? That, with some poetic license, is the premise of a Catalyst position paper that proposes a new way of selecting the best approach to search from among several alternatives.

Rather than evaluate a search technique based solely on its own metrics, the paper suggests, more optimal results could be achieved by enumerating and storing the consequences of actions at key points in system usage. Once more information is obtained through continued system usage, the relative merits of choices not taken can be made clearer. This should allow information seekers to make better choices in the future.

Catalyst search scientist Jeremy Pickens, a leading researcher on search and analytics and one of the paper’s authors, will present the paper June 6 at the ICAIL 2011 Workshop on Setting Standards for Searching Electronically Stored Information in Discovery Proceedings (DESI IV). In addition, Pickens has been asked to co-lead one of the breakout sessions at the workshop, part of the University of Pittsburg’s International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the Law.

Pickens jointly authored the paper, Process Evaluation in eDiscovery as Awareness of Alternatives, together with Bruce Kiefer, Catalyst’s director of research and development, and John Tredennick, Catalyst’s founder and CEO.

“The user of an eDiscovery platform needs to know not only how well an information seeking process is running, but how well the alternatives to that process could have run,” the paper states in its introduction. “Our view in this position paper is that one of the more important ways to understand quality is not in terms of absolute metrics on the algorithm, but in terms of an understanding of the effectiveness of the alternative choices a user could have made while interacting with the system.”

The full text of the research paper can be found on the Catalyst website.

About Catalyst

Catalyst provides secure, scalable multi-lingual document repositories for electronic discovery, litigation support, and other complex regulatory matters. For over a decade, corporations and their counsel have relied on Catalyst to control litigation costs and make review teams more effective. Our systems and supporting services cover the heart of the litigation lifecycle-from processing and search, to analytics, review, production and trial. For more information about Catalyst, visit: www.catalystsecure.com.

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