Faceted Semantic Browser (Factic)

A method for personalized exploratory search of semantic information spaces.

Technologies used: Silverlight, .NET Framework 3.5, C#, WCF Services, Sesame 2, Ontologies, SPARQL
Inputs: Domain, user and event ontologies; user interaction
Outputs: Personalized faceted browsing experience over the supplied information space

Addressed Problems

At present, the challenge of information processing is shifting from using closed and relatively small information spaces towards the use of open and comparatively large information spaces. At the same time, user expectations shift from simple lookup tasks towards more open-ended learning and investigative tasks collectively described as exploratory search. A good example are users who seek information in well structured or semistructured information spaces such as publications, digital media (photographs, movies, audio) or e-learning courses.

Consequently, the challenge of large open information spaces lies in providing a simple, yet effective way of finding, sorting and viewing relevant information. In our approach, we employ a personalized faceted semantic browser in order to enable users to browse the set of available learning objects in an interactive exploratory way.


The basic principle of the faceted browser lies in the use of a classification ontology that describes important aspects of instances from a domain ontology, which are then used to define restrictions on the instances. The user can reduce the total number of displayed instances by enabling one or more restrictions thus decreasing the size of the visible information space. Individual restrictions can be further combined to form complex restrictions ultimately allowing the user to perform more precise queries.

Our adaptive faceted semantic browser enables users to take advantage of additional functionality over traditional faceted browsers (see also the figure below):

Future work on the faceted browser might take advantage of social networks of users, of an enhanced search process model optimized for focused search, general overview or exploration, and improved presentation adaptation.

factic screenshot

Example of the GUI of the faceted semantic browser.