Extending the language modeling framework for sentence retrieval to include local context

Ronald T. Fernández, David E. Losada, Leif A. Azzopardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Employing effective methods of sentence retrieval is essential for many tasks in Information Retrieval, such as summarization, novelty detection and question answering. The best performing sentence retrieval techniques attempt to perform matching directly between the sentences and the query. However, in this paper, we posit that the local context of a sentence can provide crucial additional evidence to further improve sentence retrieval. Using a Language Modeling Framework, we propose a novel reformulation of the sentence retrieval problem that extends previous approaches so that the local context is seamlessly incorporated within the retrieval models. In a series of comprehensive experiments, we show that localized smoothing and the prior importance of a sentence can improve retrieval effectiveness. The proposed models significantly and substantially outperform the state of the art and other competitive sentence retrieval baselines on recall-oriented measures, while remaining competitive on precision-oriented measures. This research demonstrates that local context plays an important role in estimating the relevance of a sentence, and that existing sentence retrieval language models can be extended to utilize this evidence effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-389
Number of pages35
JournalInformation Retrieval
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • context
  • sentence retrieval
  • language models
  • information retrieval


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