Answering General Time Sensitive Queries

Time is an important dimension of relevance for a large number of searches, such as over blogs and news archives.  So far, research on searching over such collections has largely focused on locating topically similar documents for a query.  Unfortunately, topic similarity alone is not always sufficient for document ranking. In this paper, we observe that, for an important class of queries that we call time-sensitive queries, the publication time of the documents in a news archive is important and should be considered in conjunction with the topic similarity to derive the final document ranking.  Earlier work has focused on improving retrieval for “recency” queries that target recent documents.  We propose a more general framework for handling time-sensitive queries and we automatically identify the important time intervals that are likely to be of interest for a query.  Then, we build scoring techniques that seamlessly integrate the temporal aspect into the overall ranking mechanism.  We extensively evaluated our techniques using a variety of news article data sets, including TREC data as well as real web data analyzed using the Amazon Mechanical Turk.  We examined several alternatives for detecting the important time intervals for a query over a news archive and for incorporating this information in the retrieval process.  Our techniques are robust and significantly improve result quality for time-sensitive queries compared to state-of-the-art retrieval techniques.