Learning to rank: new approach with the layered multi-population genetic programming on click-through features
Users' click-through data is a valuable source of information about the performance of Web search engines, but it is included in few datasets for learning to rank. In this paper, inspired by the click-through data model, a novel approach is proposed for extracting the implicit user feedback from evidence embedded in benchmarking datasets. This process outputs a set of new features, named click-through features. Generated click-through features are used in a layered multi-population genetic programming framework to find the best possible ranking functions. The layered multi-population genetic programming framework is fast and provides more extensive search capability compared to the traditional genetic programming approaches. The performance of the proposed ranking generation framework is investigated both in the presence and in the absence of explicit click-through data in the utilized benchmark datasets. The experimental results show that click-through features can be efficiently extracted in both cases but that more effective ranking functions result when click-through features are generated from benchmark datasets with explicit click-through data. In either case, the most noticeable ranking improvements are achieved at the tops of the provided ranked lists of results, which are highly targeted by the Web users.