Towards a Universal Marketplace over the Web: Statistical Multi-label Classification of Service Provider Forms with Simulated Annealing

author: Kivanc Ozonat, Hewlet Packard
published: Sept. 14, 2009,   recorded: July 2009,   views: 3344

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There is a growing number of service providers that a consumer can interact with over the web to learn their service terms. The service terms, such as price and time to completion of the service, depend on the consumer's particular specifications. For instance, a printing services provider would need from its customers specifications such as the size of paper, type of ink, proofing and perforation. In a few sectors, there exist marketplace sites that provide consumers with specifications forms, which the consumer can fill out to learn the service terms of multiple service providers. Unfortunately, there are only a few such marketplace sites, and they cover a few sectors.

At HP Labs, we are working towards building a universal marketplace site, i.e., a marketplace site that covers thousands of sectors and hundreds of providers per sector. One issue in this domain is the automated discovery/retrieval of the specifications for each sector. We address it through extracting and analyzing content from the websites of the service providers listed in business directories. The challenge is that each service provider is often listed under multiple service categories in a business directory, making it infeasible to utilize standard supervised learning techniques. We address this challenge through employing a multilabel statistical clustering approach within an expectation-maximization framework. We implement our solution to retrieve specifications for 3000 sectors, representing more than 300,000 service providers. We discuss our results within the context of the services needed to design a marketing campaign for a small business.

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