BUiD and Fast Search collaborate on advanced Arabic search

Context Mining in Arabic (CMA) technology will allow accurate and relevant searches of Arabic documents

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By  Mark Sutton Published  January 15, 2008

The British University in Dubai (BUiD) and Norwegian enterprise search provider Fast Search have announced a new technology for Arabic search.

The Contextual Mining in Arabic (CMA) application will enable more accurate, and more meaningful searches of Arabic language information, with strong potential for consumer search, enterprise search and business intelligence.

The technology, which is the result of a collaboration begun in 2006, uses artificial intelligence that can analyse grammatical patterns and a database of Arabic ‘entities' such as Arabic names of people or companies, titles, and places identify and isolate key search terms. The search technology is able to recognize the relationships between words and their position within a document, and provide search results based on that.

Torbjorn Kanestrom senior VP of international operations commented: "Search needs to understand the intention of a query, it is not good enough just have a match between the words in the document and what you type in, you need to understand what context the entities are mentioned in, and what other people, companies, places are mentioned and the relationships between them."

CMA is also able to distinguish between morphological variants, variants in spelling and possible misspelled words, which was important when dealing with a complex and diverse language such as Arabic. BUiD and Fast Search's computational linguistics team will continue to collaborate on the database of Arabic entities.

Dr. Khaled Shaalan, Lecturer, Faculty of Informatics, The British University in Dubai and Honorary Fellow, University of Edinburgh, UK, said "People are not interested in searching - they are interested in finding. I am proud to say that by working closely with a leading business solutions provider, Faculty members have provided a real service to the community."

While the search technology has been completed, its availability for the local market is not yet decided, following Microsoft's bid to acquire Fast Search, which was announced on 8th January. Microsoft has made a cash tender offer of approximately $1.2 billion to acquire the company, which is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange, and while the deal has yet to be completed, Kanestrom said that he expects the technology to "be part of the Microsoft platform going forward".

“Announcements such as this wholly vindicate the strategy of creating and developing a research-led postgraduate university,” said Dr. Abdullah Alshamsi, Vice-Chancellor, The British University in Dubai. “Working with top quality partners such as Fast Search brings us closer to fulfilling the broader strategic goal of enhancing the Knowledge Economy of the United Arab Emirates."

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