Date: Sat, 17 Aug 91 14:51:54 PDT
From: Brewster Kahle
Subject: Glossary of WAIS terminology
A Glossary of WAIS Terminology
Here are some definitions of some of the confusing terms in the WAIS
system. Sorry that this is necessary.
Directory of Servers tells you want databases exist
Servers support databases
Databases search and retieve documents
Sources describe databases
Doc-id's are a general pointer to a document
Question structures store users queries that
might want to be asked periodically.
Source: A description of a database and how to contact it. A source is
described with a .src file. This is a client's view of a database. See
doc/source.txt or use the WAIS server wais-docs to find a specification of
Server: A machine that supports many databases and answers questions. Each
server has an INFO database that is the database of the .src files of each
of the databases it supports (this is not true of the CM server right now).
Database: is a service on a server that answers questions based on some
defined expertise. It is described by a .src file that can usually be
retrieved by asking "help" of the server (not true of CM databases right
Directory of Servers: A database that serves .src files of databases.
There can be many Directories for different reasons. One well known one is
located at quake.think.com on port 210. This might better be called
Relevance Feedback: A database can be searched based on a string typed by
the user optionally augmented by pointers documents or to pieces of
documents. When a document or a piece of one is given to a server by the
user, this is "relevance feedback" since the user is giving feedback saying
this is relevant; therefore find me more like that one. Not a great term,
I agree. See Salton's book: Modern Information Retrieval.
Question Structure: A question structure is a file format used by some
client programs to store the state of a user's inquiry so that it can be
used again. It includes what sources to ask, what the users query string
was with any relevant documents, and might store the last list of results.
See doc/question.txt or WAIS server wais-docs for specification of the
Doc-id: When a database returns a list of hits, it includes a doc-id so
that the client can then select for retrieval or relevance feedback. This
is a special string created by the database for this purpose. There is a
structure for these identifiers that allows then to be portable and
enduring. See doc/doc-ids.txt or WAIS server wais-docs for a
Rosebud: The name of the Apple User interface to WAIS. They use
reporters, newspapers, and notebooks as their metaphors.
Digital Librarian: NeXT's system for LANbased WAIS, that has recently been
extended to contact WAIS servers.
WAIStation: the Mac interface developed by Harry Morris of Thinking
Gwais, Xwais, Swais: interfaces for gnu-emacs, xwindows, and dumb terminals
by Jonny Goldman of Thinking Machines, Jonny again, and John Curran.
Anything else that should be added here?
Brewster Kahle Thinking Machines Corporation
Brewster@Think.com 1010 El Camino Real
Project Leader Menlo Park, CA 94025
Wide Area Information Servers 415-329-9300x228