Organizing user search histories

Heasoo Hwang, Hady W. Lauw, Lise Getoor, Alexandros Ntoulas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Users are increasingly pursuing complex task-oriented goals on the web, such as making travel arrangements, managing finances, or planning purchases. To this end, they usually break down the tasks into a few codependent steps and issue multiple queries around these steps repeatedly over long periods of time. To better support users in their long-term information quests on the web, search engines keep track of their queries and clicks while searching online. In this paper, we study the problem of organizing a user's historical queries into groups in a dynamic and automated fashion. Automatically identifying query groups is helpful for a number of different search engine components and applications, such as query suggestions, result ranking, query alterations, sessionization, and collaborative search. In our approach, we go beyond approaches that rely on textual similarity or time thresholds, and we propose a more robust approach that leverages search query logs. We experimentally study the performance of different techniques, and showcase their potential, especially when combined together.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5677512
Pages (from-to)912-925
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2012


  • User history
  • click graph
  • query clustering
  • query reformulation
  • search history
  • task identification.


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