HCIL-2010-23

Elsayed, T., Ture, F., Lin, J.
October 2010
HCIL-2010-23
Modern information retrieval research has evolved a standard workflow that involves first indexing a document collection and then running ad hoc queries sequentially to evaluate retrieval effectiveness using standard test collections. This paper explores how aspects of this workflow might change in a MapReduce cluster-based environment. First, we present and evaluate two algorithms for inverted indexing that take advantage of the programming model's sorting mechanism to different extents. The running times of both algorithms scale linearly in terms of collection size up to 102 million web pages. Second, we show that it is possible to efficiently perform batch query evaluation with MapReduce by scanning all postings lists in parallel, as opposed to sequentially accessing each postings list. Third, we explore an approach that forgoes inverted indexing altogether and simply computes all query-document scores from document vectors themselves. Experimental results challenge us to think differently about previous assumptions in information retrieval, and show that brute force approaches are surprisingly compelling under certain circumstances: parallel scan of postings can effectively take advantage of large clusters and parallel scan of documents fits naturally with ranking functions that use document-level features.
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