Effective web crawlers

Ali, H 2008, Effective web crawlers, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Computer Science and Information Technology, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Effective web crawlers
Author(s) Ali, H
Year 2008
Abstract Web crawlers are the component of a search engine that must traverse the Web, gathering documents in a local repository for indexing by a search engine so that they can be ranked by their relevance to user queries. Whenever data is replicated in an autonomously updated environment, there are issues with maintaining up-to-date copies of documents.

When documents are retrieved by a crawler and have subsequently been altered on the Web, the effect is an inconsistency in user search results. While the impact depends on the type and volume of change, many existing algorithms do not take the degree of change into consideration, instead using simple measures that consider any change as significant. Furthermore, many crawler evaluation metrics do not consider index freshness or the amount of impact that crawling algorithms have on user results. Most of the existing work makes assumptions about the change rate of documents on the Web, or relies on the availability of a long history of change.

Our work investigates approaches to improving index consistency: detecting meaningful change, measuring the impact of a crawl on collection freshness from a user perspective, developing a framework for evaluating crawler performance, determining the effectiveness of stateless crawl ordering schemes, and proposing and evaluating the effectiveness of a dynamic crawl approach. Our work is concerned specifically with cases where there is little or no past change statistics with which predictions can be made.

Our work analyses different measures of change and introduces a novel approach to measuring the impact of recrawl schemes on search engine users. Our schemes detect important changes that affect user results. Other well-known and widely used schemes have to retrieve around twice the data to achieve the same effectiveness as our schemes. Furthermore, while many studies have assumed that the Web changes according to a model, our experimental results are based on real web documents.

We analyse various stateless crawl ordering schemes that have no past change statistics with which to predict which documents will change, none of which, to our knowledge, has been tested to determine effectiveness in crawling changed documents. We empirically show that the effectiveness of these schemes depends on the topology and dynamics of the domain crawled and that no one static crawl ordering scheme can effectively maintain freshness, motivating our work on dynamic approaches.

We present our novel approach to maintaining freshness, which uses the anchor text linking documents to determine the likelihood of a document changing, based on statistics gathered during the current crawl. We show that this scheme is highly effective when combined with existing stateless schemes. When we combine our scheme with PageRank, our approach allows the crawler to improve both freshness and quality of a collection. Our scheme improves freshness regardless of which stateless scheme it is used in conjunction with, since it uses both positive and negative reinforcement to determine which document to retrieve.

Finally, we present the design and implementation of Lara, our own distributed crawler, which we used to develop our testbed.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Computer Science and Information Technology
Keyword(s) Web Crawler
Search Engines
Index Consistency
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Created: Wed, 16 Feb 2011, 11:47:48 EST by Guy Aron
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