Mailbox-Based vs. Log-Based Query Completion for Mail Search

Aug 7, 2017

Recent research studies on mail search have shown that the longer the query, the better the quality of results, yet a majority of mail queries remain very short and searchers struggle with formulating queries. A known mechanism to assist users in this task is query auto-completion, which has been highly successful in Web search, where it leverages huge logs of queries issued by hundreds of millions of users. This approach cannot be applied directly to mail search as personal query logs are small, mailboxes are not shared and other users' queries are not necessarily generalizable to all. We therefore propose here to leverage the mailbox content in order to generate suggestions, taking advantage of mail-specific features. We then compare this approach to a recent study that augments an individual user's mail search history with query logs from "similar users'', where the similarity is driven by demographics. Finally we show how combining both types of approaches allows for better suggestions quality but also increases the chance that the desired message be retrieved. We validate our claims via a manual qualitative evaluation and large scale quantitative experiments conducted on the query log of Yahoo Mail.

  • International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR 2017)
  • Conference/Workshop Paper