Thumbnail Image

A graphical user interface for Boolean query specification

On-line information repositories commonly provide keyword search facilities via textual query languages based on Boolean logic. However, there is evidence to suggest that the syntactical demands of such languages can lead to user errors and adversely affect the time that it takes users to form queries. Users also face difficulties because of the conflict in semantics between AND and OR when used in Boolean logic and English language. We suggest that graphical query languages, in particular Venn-like diagrams, can alleviate the problems that users experience when forming Boolean expressions with textual languages. We describe Vquery, a Venn-diagram based user interface to the New Zealand Digital Library (NZDL). The design of Vquery has been partly motivated by analysis of NZDL usage. We found that few queries contain more than three terms, use of the intersection operator dominates and that query refinement is common. A study of the utility of Venn diagrams for query specification indicates that with little or no training users can interpret and form Venn-like diagrams which accurately correspond to Boolean expressions. The utility of Vquery is considered and directions for future work are proposed.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Computer Science Working Papers
Jones, S. & McInnes, S. (1997). A graphical user interface for Boolean query specification. (Working paper 97/31). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Department of Computer Science.
Computer Science, University of Waikato