Computing the entropy of user navigation in the web

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Levene, Mark ; Loizou, George (2003)

Navigation through the web, colloquially known as "surfing", is one of the main activities of users during web interaction. When users follow a navigation trail they often tend to get disoriented in terms of the goals of their original query and thus the discovery of typical user trails could be useful in providing navigation assistance. Herein, we give a theoretical underpinning of user navigation in terms of the entropy of an underlying Markov chain modelling the web topology. We present a novel method for online incremental computation of the entropy and a large deviation result regarding the length of a trail to realize the said entropy. We provide an error analysis for our estimation of the entropy in terms of the divergence between the empirical and actual probabilities. We then indicate applications of our algorithm in the area of web data mining. Finally, we present an extension of our technique to higher-order Markov chains by a suitable reduction of a higher-order Markov chain model to a first-order one.
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