Searching large indexes on tiny devices: Optimizing binary search with character pinning

The small physical size of mobile devices imposes dramatic restrictions on the user interface (UI). With the ever increasing capacity of these devices as well as access to large online stores it becomes increasingly important to help the user select a particular item efficiently. Thus, we propose binary search with character pinning, where users can constrain their search to match selected prefix characters while making simple binary decisions about the position of their intended item in the lexicographic order. The underlying index for our method is based on a ternary search tree that is optimal under certain user-oriented constraints. To better scale to larger indexes, we analyze several heuristics that rapidly construct good trees. A user study demonstrates that our method helps users conduct rapid searches, using less keystrokes, compared to other methods.

In  Proc. IUI 2009

Publisher  Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.
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