UBC Theses and Dissertations
Discovering and summarizing email conversations Zhou, Xiaodong
With the ever increasing popularity of emails, it is very common nowadays that people discuss specific issues, events or tasks among a group of people by emails. Those discussions can be viewed as conversations via emails and are valuable for the user as a personal information repository. For instance, in 10 minutes before a meeting, a user may want to quickly go through a previous discussion via emails that is going to be discussed in the meeting soon. In this case, rather than reading each individual email one by one, it is preferable to read a concise summary of the previous discussion with major information summarized. In this thesis, we study the problem of discovering and summarizing email conversations. We believe that our work can greatly support users with their email folders. However, the characteristics of email conversations, e.g., lack of synchronization, conversational structure and informal writing style, make this task particularly challenging. In this thesis, we tackle this task by considering the following aspects: discovering emails in one conversation, capturing the conversation structure and summarizing the email conversation. We first study how to discover all emails belonging to one conversation. Specifically, we study the hidden email problem, which is important for email summarization and other applications but has not been studied before. We propose a framework to discover and regenerate hidden emails. The empirical evaluation shows that this framework is accurate and scalable to large folders. Second, we build a fragment quotation graph to capture email conversations. The hidden emails belonging to each conversation are also included into the corresponding graph. Based on the quotation graph, we develop a novel email conversation summarizer, ClueWordSummarizer. The comparison with a state-of-the-art email summarizer as well as with a popular multi-document summarizer shows that ClueWordSummarizer obtains a higher accuracy in most cases. Furthermore, to address the characteristics of email conversations, we study several ways to improve the ClueWordSummarizer by considering more lexical features. The experiments show that many of those improvements can significantly increase the accuracy especially the subjective words and phrases.
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