A user-oriented web crawler for selectively acquiring online content in e-health research

Songhua Xu, Hong Jun Yoon, Georgia Tourassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Motivation: Life stories of diseased and healthy individuals are abundantly available on the Internet. Collecting and mining such online content can offer many valuable insights into patients' physical and emotional states throughout the pre-diagnosis, diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment stages of the disease compared with those of healthy subjects. However, such content is widely dispersed across the web. Using traditional query-based search engines to manually collect relevant materials is rather labor intensive and often incomplete due to resource constraints in terms of human query composition and result parsing efforts. The alternative option, blindly crawling the whole web, has proven inefficient and unaffordable for e-health researchers.Results: We propose a user-oriented web crawler that adaptively acquires user-desired content on the Internet to meet the specific online data source acquisition needs of e-health researchers. Experimental results on two cancer-related case studies show that the new crawler can substantially accelerate the acquisition of highly relevant online content compared with the existing state-of-the-art adaptive web crawling technology. For the breast cancer case study using the full training set, the new method achieves a cumulative precision between 74.7 and 79.4% after 5 h of execution till the end of the 20-h long crawling session as compared with the cumulative precision between 32.8 and 37.0% using the peer method for the same time period. For the lung cancer case study using the full training set, the new method achieves a cumulative precision between 56.7 and 61.2% after 5 h of execution till the end of the 20-h long crawling session as compared with the cumulative precision between 29.3 and 32.4% using the peer method. Using the reduced training set in the breast cancer case study, the cumulative precision of our method is between 44.6 and 54.9%, whereas the cumulative precision of the peer method is between 24.3 and 26.3%; for the lung cancer case study using the reduced training set, the cumulative precisions of our method and the peer method are, respectively, between 35.7 and 46.7% versus between 24.1 and 29.6%. These numbers clearly show a consistently superior accuracy of our method in discovering and acquiring user-desired online content for e-health research.Availability and implementation: The implementation of our user-oriented web crawler is freely available to non-commercial users via the following Web site: http://bsec.ornl.gov/AdaptiveCrawler.shtml. The Web site provides a step-by-step guide on how to execute the web crawler implementation. In addition, the Web site provides the two study datasets including manually labeled ground truth, initial seeds and the crawling results reported in this article.Contact: Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-114
Number of pages11
JournalBioinformatics
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics

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