Document (#28646)

Author
Mooers, C.N.
Title
¬The indexing language of an information retrieval system
Source
Theory of subject analysis: a sourcebook. Ed.: L.M. Chan, et al
Imprint
Littleton, CO : Libraries Unlimited
Year
1985
Pages
S.247-261
Abstract
Calvin Mooers' work toward the resolution of the problem of ambiguity in indexing went unrecognized for years. At the time he introduced the "descriptor" - a term with a very distinct meaning-indexers were, for the most part, taking index terms directly from the document, without either rationalizing them with context or normalizing them with some kind of classification. It is ironic that Mooers' term came to be attached to the popular but unsophisticated indexing methods which he was trying to root out. Simply expressed, what Mooers did was to take the dictionary definitions of terms and redefine them so clearly that they could not be used in any context except that provided by the new definition. He did, at great pains, construct such meanings for over four hundred words; disambiguation and specificity were sought after and found for these words. He proposed that all indexers adopt this method so that when the index supplied a term, it also supplied the exact meaning for that term as used in the indexed document. The same term used differently in another document would be defined differently and possibly renamed to avoid ambiguity. The disambiguation was achieved by using unabridged dictionaries and other sources of defining terminology. In practice, this tends to produce circularity in definition, that is, word A refers to word B which refers to word C which refers to word A. It was necessary, therefore, to break this chain by creating a new, definitive meaning for each word. Eventually, means such as those used by Austin (q.v.) for PRECIS achieved the same purpose, but by much more complex means than just creating a unique definition of each term. Mooers, however, was probably the first to realize how confusing undefined terminology could be. Early automatic indexers dealt with distinct disciplines and, as long as they did not stray beyond disciplinary boundaries, a quick and dirty keyword approach was satisfactory. The trouble came when attempts were made to make a combined index for two or more distinct disciplines. A number of processes have since been developed, mostly involving tagging of some kind or use of strings. Mooers' solution has rarely been considered seriously and probably would be extremely difficult to apply now because of so much interdisciplinarity. But for a specific, weIl defined field, it is still weIl worth considering. Mooers received training in mathematics and physics from the University of Minnesota and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was the founder of Zator Company, which developed and marketed a coded card information retrieval system, and of Rockford Research, Inc., which engages in research in information science. He is the inventor of the TRAC computer language.
Footnote
Nachdruck des Originalartikels mit Kommentierung durch die Herausgeber
Original in: Information retrieval today: papers presented at an Institute conducted by the Library School and the Center for Continuation Study, University of Minnesota, Sept. 19-22, 1962. Ed. by Wesley Simonton. Minneapolis, Minn.: The Center, 1963. S.21-36.
Theme
Theorie verbaler Dokumentationssprachen
Konzeption und Anwendung des Prinzips Thesaurus

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