Microblog retrieval has received much attention in recent years due to the wide spread of social microblogging platforms such as Twitter. The main motive behind microblog retrieval is to serve users searching a big collection of microblogs a list of relevant documents (microblogs) matching their search needs. What makes microblog retrieval different from normal web retrieval is the short length of the user queries and the documents that you search in, which leads to a big vocabulary mismatch problem. Many research studies investigated different approaches for microblog retrieval. Query expansion is one of the approaches that showed stable performance for improving microblog retrieval effectiveness. Query expansion is used mainly to overcome the vocabulary mismatch problem between user queries and short relevant documents. In our work, we investigate existing query expansion method (Pseudo Relevance Feedback - PRF) comprehensively, and propose an extension using the information from hyperlinks attached to the top relevant documents. Our experimental results on TREC microblog data showed that Pseudo Relevance Feedback (PRF) alone could outperform many retrieval approaches if configured properly. We showed that combining the expansion terms with the original query by a weight, not to dilute the effect of the original query, could lead to superior results. The weighted combine of the expansion terms is different than what is commonly used in the literature by appending the expansion terms to the original query without weighting. We experimented using different weighting schemes, and empirically found that assigning a small weight for the expansion terms 0.2, and 0.8 for the original query performs the best for the three evaluation sets 2011, 2012, and 2013. We applied the previous weighting scheme to the most reported PRF configuration used in the literature and measured the retrieval performance. The P@30 performance achieved using our weighting scheme was 0.485, 0.4136, and 0.4811 compared to 0.4585, 0.3548, and 0.3861 without applying weighting for the three evaluation sets 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. The MAP performance achieved using our weighting scheme was 0.4386, 0.2845, and 0.3262 compared to 0.3592, 0.2074, and 0.2256 without applying weighting for the three evaluation sets 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. Results also showed that utilizing hyperlinked documents attached to the top relevant tweets in query expansion improves the results over traditional PRF. By utilizing hyperlinked documents in the query expansion our best runs achieved 0.5000, 0.4339, and 0.5546 P@30 compared to 0.4864, 0.4203, and 0.5322 when applying traditional PRF, and 0.4587, 0.3044, and 0.3584 MAP when applying traditional PRF compared to 0.4405, 0.2850, and 0.3492 when utilizing the hyperlinked document contents (using web page titles, and meta-descriptions) for the three evaluation sets 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. We explored different types of information extracted from the hyperlinked documents; we show that using the document titles and meta-descriptions helps in improving the retrieval performance the most. On the other hand, using the meta- keywords degraded the retrieval performance. For the test set released in 2013, using our hyperlinked-extended approach achieved the best improvement over the PRF baseline, 0.5546 P@30 compared to 0.5322 and 0.3584 MAP compared to 0.3492. For the test sets released in 2011 and 2012 we got less improvements over PRF, 0.5000, 0.4339 P@30 compared to 0.4864, 0.4203, and 0.4587, 0.3044 MAP compared to 0.4405, 0.2850. We showed that this behavior was due to the age of the collection, where a lot of hyperlinked documents were taken down or moved and we couldn't get their information. Our best results achieved using hyperlink-extended PRF achieved statistically significant improvements over the traditional PRF for the test sets released in 2011, and 2013 using paired t-test with p-value < 0.05. Moreover, our proposed approach outperformed the best results reported at TREC microblog track for the years 2011, and 2013, which applied more sophisticated algorithms. Our proposed approach achieved 0.5000, 0.5546 P@30 compared to 0.4551, 0.5528 achieved by the best runs in TREC, and 0.4587, 0.3584 MAP compared to 0.3350, 0.3524 for the evaluation sets of 2011 and 2013 respectively. The main contributions of our work can be listed as follows: 1. Providing a comprehensive study for the usage of traditional PRF with microblog retrieval using various configurations. 2. Introducing a hyperlink-based PRF approach for microblog retrieval by utilizing hyperlinks embedded in initially retrieved tweets, which showed a significant improvement to retrieval effectiveness.


Computer Science & Engineering Department

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Graduation Date


Submission Date

July 2014

First Advisor

Rafea, Ahmed

Committee Member 1

El-Kassas, Sherif

Committee Member 2

Shalan, Mohamed


146 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Online social networks.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Information resources magement.


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


All the experiments conducted in this work are based on TREC (Text REtrieval Conference) 2011, 2012, and 2013 Microblog track data (trec.nist.gov/data/tweets/). We would like to thank TREC for offering the tweets ids, tools to crawl the dataset and the evaluation sets (www.github.com/lintool/twitter- tools/wiki/Tweets2011-Collection). I would like to thank Dr. Jimmy Lin (www.umiacs.umd.edu/~jimmylin/), for his continuous help and support for the TREC Microblog Track APIs. Special thanks goes to Dr. Ahmed Rafea for his great help, support, and patience which without I couldn’t reach this phase. A very special acknowledgment goes to my fiancé, who stood beside me and helped me a lot during working on this thesis. Thanks so much for your love and care, I wouldn’t have reached this state without your support. Last but not least, I thank my mom, dad, and brothers. My parents have sacrificed their lives for my brothers and me and provided unconditiol love and care. I love them so much.