A
arXiv:0902.1104v1 [cs.HC] 6 Feb 2009
Anirban Banerji
Bioinformati
s Centre, University of Pune
Pune411007
Maharashtra, India
anirbanbioinfo.ernet.in,anirbanabgmail. om
th
Date : 17 De
ember, 2008
Abstra
t
We all go through s
ores of webpages everyday, in sear
h
of required information. At times we be
ome satised with
the
ontent of some pages, at time we fail to. An obje
tive
framework that attempts to model the user satisfa
tion when
he sear
hes for some desired pie
e of information, is essential
for HumanComputerIntera
tion. In the present work, a sim
ple probabilisti
model is
onstru
ted to a
hieve pre
isely the
same. This realisti
yet stri
tly mathemati
al study proposes
a marker, the 'satisfa
tion retentivity quotient', to model the
omplex realm of user psy
hology as he attempts to nd re
quired information and forgets some bits of it here and there,
simultaneously.
1
We read hundreds of webpages everyday to nd information of our interest.
Startling extent of inter
onne
tivity [1℄ of the webdo
uments have made life
easier for us while attempting to retrieve
ertain pie
e of information from the
Internet. We all know how happy we be
ome to nd some bits of relevant
information and we know how irritated we be
ome not to nd the same in
s
ores of pages. While signi
ant progress has been made in many realms of
'HumanComputer Intera
tion'(HCI), a fundamental aspe
t of the eld, namely
an obje
tive model that attempts to
apture the states of satisfa
tion of a user
as he traverses through the web in sear
h of a parti
ular set of information; still
eludes the students of HCI and in general, people who use Internet. Although
some eorts have been made to quantify
ertain aspe
ts of 'user satisfa
tion'
([2℄ studied it as a fun
tion of sear
h engines, [3℄ had attempted to des
ribe it
with respe
t to tra
demand and
apa
ity of ea
h link in the network, still
dierently, [4℄ attempted to des
ribe it as a fun
tion of information retrieval),
a realisti
pi
ture of the
hanging state of satisfa
tion level of an Internet user,
does not generally emerge from these works. Here, a simple probabilisti
model
is proposed, whi
h tries to model the user psy
hology as he wanders around un
known websites in sear
h of a parti
ular set of desired information. An honest
attempt is made to des
ribe the pro
ess as it is, instead of assuming the user to
perform unrealisti
operations.
Let us attempt to model a situation when a user is sear
hing for a
hunk of
information, of somewhat fuzzy nature (be
ause in most of the
ases, user him
self does not possess
ategori
al knowledge about what exa
tly he is sear
hing
for, but be
omes aware of his pre
ise needs when he starts the sear
hing op
eration). Similarly, it is not exa
tly
ommonpla
e for the user to hitupon a
parti
ular website where the entire bulk of information would be available to
2
him in one magi
al attempt. Instead, he/she gathers bits and pie
es of rele
vant information from various websites. We assume that the required set of
information
an be broken down to an arbitrarily large number of small bits of
information, whi
h the user a
umulates and arranges in his mind suitably, to
gather the desired knowledge. Let us assume that a ux of tiny bits of pertinent
information in the very rst page of any website is what
aptures the imagi
nation of the user (say, U) and motivates him to read the
ontent of the entire
site in su
ient detail, in the hope of
olle
ting the maximum
ontent of infor
mation about the question in his(her, at any rate) mind. We assume further
that the satisfa
tion level of U is purely a fun
tion of the level of information
he is re
eiving from the website (in this work, the design features of the web
site that do not
ontribute to the existing level of information
ontent of U, is
not
onsidered as a reasonable parameter whi
h might inuen
e the satisfa
tion
level of U). We assume further that U's
oming a
ross these tiny bits of perti
nent information forms an elementary ow of intensity λ (s
aler rate parameter).
It is realisti
to assume that the very moment U tou
hes upon a pie
e of infor
mation that he thinks might take him
loser to the desired pie
e of information
he is sear
hing for, his satisfa
tion level grows. To make the
al
ulation simpler,
we assume that this growth of satisfa
tion in U, takes pla
e with a
onstant s
ale
of unit magnitude. However, as it generally happens in reallife, very soon U
realizes that any typi
ally en
ountered tiny pie
e of hint of an information is not
taking him
loser to the set of information he wishes to possess, but is aiming
at something else that aren't exa
tly related to the premise of question he is
interested in. His satisfa
tion level therefore starts to de
ay. To represent the
situation reasonably, we assume this de
ay fun
tion to be having an exponential
nature (rather than having a twostate (or some other)
hara
teristi
s), with a
3
parameter µ. Thus, while λ is inuen
ed predominantly by the
ontent of the
site; origin of µ is
omplex, be
ause of its dependen
e on various parameters.
Nevertheless, those tiny sour
es of information satises U to some extent and a
umulative ee
t of these a
quired information starts to build up in his mind.
We assume that the gradual growth of residual satisfa
tion of U (attained with
the bits of pie
es of a
quired information from the website) over the travers
ing time t, through the webpage,
an be
aptured by summing them up. We
designate the usersatisfa
tion level by X(t). In the present work, a simple
mathemati
al model is proposed whi
h attempts to nd the
hara
teristi
s of
this growth of usersatisfa
tion upon browsing through a website.
Let us assume that U tou
hes upon the pertinent information at random mo
ments, T1 , T2 , . . . , Ti , . . . , whi
h forms an elementary ow of events. The user
satisfa
tion level at any arbitrarily
hosen moment t, due to his intera
tion with
any parti
ular bit of information (say, ith bit of information) en
ountered at the
moment Ti , is given by :
Let us now dene a random variable Ω, whi
h des
ribes the number of su
h
tiny bits of information that inuen
e the satisfa
tion level of U. This variable,
4
to be realisti
, will be having a Poisson distribution with parameter λt ([58℄).
Further, to des
ribe the reallife situation properly, we represent the user
satisfa
tion level X(t) as the sum of random number of random terms :
Ω
X
X(t) = e−µ(t−Ti ) 1(t − Ti ) (3)
i=1
Sin
e a Poisson ow of events on any interval (0, t)
an be represented, with suf
ient a
ura
y as a
olle
tion of points on that interval (des
ribed in the 'Sup
plementary Material', available on request), the
oordinate of whi
h αi ∈ (0, t)
is uniformly distributed on that interval and does not depend on the
oordi
nates of other points. This is natural to expe
t even from a nonmathemati
al
intuitive understanding of the situation also. Be
ause the user U
omes a
ross
all these points (representing the exa
t instan
e of nding a bit of relevant in
formation) during the interval (0, t) and this des
ription exhaustively represents
the entire event spa
e of favorable en
ounter for the user during (0, t).
Ω
X
X(t) = e−µ(t−αi ) (4)
i=1
Sin
e the satisfa
tion of U is a fun
tion of interplay of λ and µ, and pra
ti
al experien
e suggests it to be having a
umulative nature, we
an attempt
to model user satisfa
tion as a resultant of ea
h event of favorable information
gathering and unfavorable de
ay. We designate Xi (t) = e−µ(t−αi ) = e−µt eµαi ,
5
where Xi (t) represents ea
h of these tiny events. Hen
e we have :
Ω
X Ω
X
X(t) = Xi (t) = e−µt eµαi (5)
i=1 i=1
where Xi (t) are independent similarly distributed random variables, and the
random variable Ω does not depend upon the random variables Xi (t) either.
Here we note that although X(t) is
umulative in nature, essentially it is a
sto
hasti
pro
ess.
At this moment, we invoke the known formula regarding mean value and vari
an
e of the sum of a random number of random variables [9℄,[10℄ (if random
PΩ
variable Z is a sum Z = i=1 Xi , where the random variables Xi are indepen
dent and have the same distribution with mean value mx and varian
e Varx ;
the number of terms Ω is an integral random variable whi
h does not depend
upon terms of Xi ; has a mean value mΩ and varian
e VarΩ ; we know the mean
value mz and varian
e Varz of the random variable are given by : mz = mx mΩ
and V arz = V arx mΩ + m2x V arΩ ). Whereby in the present
ase, we have :
and
V arx (t) = mΩ (t)V arxi (t) + V arΩ (t)m2xi (t) (7)
Sin
e the random variable Ω has a Poisson distribution with parameter λt, it
follows that mΩ (t) = V arΩ (t) = λt.
6
t 1−e−µt
mxi (t) = E[Xi (t)] = 1
t 0
e−µ(t−x) dx = µt .
However, it is pragmati
to assume that the pro
ess of estimation of mxi (t)
in user's mind to be less than smooth and therefore to des
ribe the situation
realisti
ally, we need to
al
ulate some quantity analogous to moment of iner
tia of mxi (t), if in the mental spa
e mxi (t) is des
ribed as a lineshaped obje
t.
Hen
e we determine the se
ond moment about the origin of the random variable
Xi (t) :
t 1−e−2µt
E[Xi2 (t)] = 1
t 0
[e−µ(t−x) ]2 dx = 2µt .
Hen
e,
1 − e−µt
mx (t) = λ (8)
µ
1 − e−2µt
V arx (t) = λt[V arxi (t) + m2xi (t)] = λtE[Xi2 (t)] = λ (9)
2µ
λ
limt→∞ mx = mx = (10)
µ
and
λ
limt→∞ V arx (t) = V arx = (11)
2µ
7
This is expe
ted purely from an intuitive perspe
tive also. After traversing
through the website(s) for a su
iently long time, the user is expe
ted to
gather a nite amount of desirable information. However, sin
e he fails to re
member all of it, only a fra
tion of the amassed information will be retained
by him. Hen
e the fra
tion λ
µ
an be named as 'satisfa
tion retentivity quotient'.
8
satisfa
tion Ω(t′ − t), whi
h
omes into being due to user's
oming a
ross some
interesting bits of information during the time interval (t′ − t). Hen
e X(t′ ) is
given by :
′
X(t′ ) = [X(t)e−λ(t −t) + Ω(t′ − t)] (12)
The sto
hasti
pro
esses X(t) and Ω(t′ − t) are evidently independent sin
e they
are generated due to user's intera
tion with desired pie
e of information during
dierent, nonoverlapping time intervals (0, t) and (t, t′ ) respe
tively.
The same
an be said about the
entered sto
hasti
pro
esses Ẋ(t) and Ω̇(t′ −t),
where we dene Ẋ(t) = X(t) − mx (t) and Ω̇(t′ − t) = Ω(t′ − t) − mΩ (t′ − t) as
entered random fun
tions of the aforementioned sto
hasti
pro
esses.
Hen
e, using eqn 12 we have :
h i
Cx (t, t′ ) = E Ẋ(t)Ẋ(t′ )
h n ′
oi
= E Ẋ(t) Ẋ(t)e−µ(t −t) + Ω̇(t′ − t)
2 ′
= E Ẋ(t) e−µ(t −t) if (t′ > t)
2 ′
′
= E Ẋ(t ) e−µ(t−t ) if (t′ < t)
h ′
i ′
Cx (t, t′ ) = V arx (min(t, t′ )) 1 − e2αmin(t,t ) e−µt −t (13)
9
Let us
onsider the limiting behavior of the sto
hasti
pro
ess when t → ∞,
t′ → ∞, but the magnitude of their dieren
e τ = t′ − t is nite. In this
ase,
Cx (τ ) = V arx e−µτ  = λ −µτ 
2α e .
Hen
e the sto
hasti
pro
ess X(t) representing user satisfa
tion pra
ti
ally at
tains stationarity in every aspe
t when the user spends a long time sear
hing
for some desired bulk of information, whi
h
onforms to our experien
e. Fur
thermore, its nature assumes that of a normal distribution when user sear
hes
for long (in other words, (t → ∞), (t′ → ∞)) and λ
µ > L.
Of
ourse the user
an hit upon a website where the information regarding
all of his interest is kept in one pla
e. In su
h (unlikely)
ase, naturally µ → 0.
Here the extent of user satisfa
tion will be a Poisson pro
ess sin
e every new
pie
e of information that the user will be en
ountering will exa
tly mat
h with
the desired set of information he wanted to
ollate. Consequently, the de
ay in
user's interest will o
ur minimally. In su
h a
ase, the expressions for mx (t),
Varx (t) and Cx (t, t′ ) will assume the form :
−µt −2µt
limt→∞ mx (t) = limµ→0 λ 1−eµ = limµ→0 V arx (t) = limµ→0 λ 1−e2µ = λt
h ′
i ′
limµ→0 Cx (t, t′ ) = limµ→0 2µ
λ
1 − e2µmin(t,t ) e−µt −t = λ [min(t, t′ )]
Case 2) :
10
in a somewhat quantized form. Although this
ase is similar to one dis
ussed
already, there are
ertain subtle dieren
es. To nd the
hara
teristi
s of user
satisfa
tion level in this situation, we assume the appli
ability of the assump
tions made earlier and at the same time assume further that user's
oming a
ross
su
h quantum of desired information form an elementary ow with intensity λ.
The exa
t number of information that
onstitute any ith quantum of desired
information is assumed to be a random variable Ri , whi
h, keeping with the
reallife situation, is obviously independent of the number of information that
onstitutes any other quantum. The random variable Ri has a distribution f (R)
with
hara
teristi
s of mR and varR .
Just like the
ase where user was en
ountering the desired information in bits
and pie
es(eqn 3), here too we
an represent the extent of usersatisfa
tion by :
Ω
X
X(t) = Ri e−µ(t−αi ) (14)
i=1
Keeping with the
ase1 approa
h, we designate Xi (t) = Ri e−λ(t−αi ) and then
−µt −2µt
E [Xi (t)] = mR 1−eµt and E Xi2 (t) = (V arR + m2R ) 1−e2µt
Hen eforth,
1 − e−µt
mx (t) = λmR (15)
µ
and
1 − e−2µt
V arx (t) = λ[(V arR + m2R ) ] (16)
2µ
11
Sin
e mR > 0 and V arR > 0, eqn 15 will grow faster than eqn 8, similarly
eqn 16 will grow faster than eqn 9. This is
ompletely in agreement with pra

ti
al experien
es. Sin
e user
omes a
ross the desired bulk of information in a
oherent quantized form, he a
quisition of knowledge be
omes fast.
λmR
limt→∞ mx (t) = mx = µ
λ(V arR +m2R )
limt→∞ V arx (t) = V arx = 2µ
Cx (τ ) = V arx e−µτ 
Con lusion :
A probabilisti
model is proposed here that des
ribes the satisfa
tion prole of
a user when he browses through website(s) in sear
h of a desired set of informa
tion. Sin
e the results obtained from theoreti
al
onsiderations seem to agree
pretty mu
h with our routine experien
es, the reliability of this attempt
an be
onsidered trustworthy. The model points to a stationarity in user satisfa
tion
prole when the browsing operation
ontinues for a long time. Most impor
tantly, it suggests a marker, the 'satisfa
tion retentivity quotient' that
aptures
the essen
e of the entire pro
ess and
an help in obje
tive des
ription of many
of the pro
esses that the rapidly emerging eld of HCI attempts to model.
12
A
knowledgment : This work was supported by COEDBT(Department of
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14
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