BACKGROUND: CaseBank is a leading provider of experience-based diagnostic solutions to the aerospace industry. Since its inception in 1997, the company has been dedicated to providing its customers with tools and solutions to manage their troubleshooting knowledge. These tools collect, organize and share troubleshooting experience. At the heart of CaseBank's product offering is the family of software tools called SpotLight that uses case based reasoning technology. Using SpotLight, airline technicians can efficiently and accurately troubleshoot complex problems for which well-defined diagnostic procedures may be unavailable. Aerospace organizations such as Bombardier, Rockwell Collins and General Electric are among the current users of SpotLight.

PLATFORMS: Windows NT 4.0 servers and client PCs running Windows 95/98 and Windows NT. Novell Netware and Microsoft Networking are the networking software. At CaseBank, TextAnalyst was installed as a standalone application on Windows 95/98 PCs.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Using a process called case base engineering, CaseBank develops high-quality case bases that contain experience-based troubleshooting knowledge. The contents of case bases are synthesized from a variety of electronic and paper knowledge sources that customers have typically collected in their legacy information systems. The process of case base engineering is effort-intensive and potentially expensive. CaseBank was looking for a text mining tool that could aid the case development process and thereby reduce the case base engineering cost. CaseBank found that TextAnalyst had the potential to address the case base engineering problem. TextAnalyst was used on a number of existing electronic repositories containing troubleshooting and fault information; and the case developers were able to rapidly assess the content, quality and value of the repositories for use in case development. CaseBank estimates that Text Analyst is likely to save case preparation time and allow it to be more responsive to its customer's knowledge operationalization needs.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: TextAnalyst was used on repositories that contained textual descriptions of problems and repair actions on aircraft. It was used to perform content analysis and create semantic networks. The network provides an overview of the important concepts and their interrelationships. Using the semantic network and the thematic structure, the user can quickly develop an understanding of the repository contents. The discovered concepts provide a convenient set of topics to the user who is unfamiliar with subject matter and assist him/her in formulating meaningful queries. Automated abstracting delivers an accurate summary of the document. The semantic search capability allows a user to rapidly locate relevant content in the document. In addition, TextAnalyst allows the user to edit and customize the semantic network and hyperlink topics within a document.

STRENGTHS: TextAnalyst is intuitive and simple to use. Much can be done without reading the manual or the online help. Therefore, a new user can be productive in relatively short time. It is fast and robust. Tests on repositories containing more than 50,000 words did not cause it to crash.

WEAKNESSES: TextAnalyst cannot be embedded in other applications due to the unavailability of APIs. TextAnalyst 1.5 did not provide a means to print its semantic network or its repository contents, but the new version 1.53 includes semantic network output to Microsoft Excel and printing.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Since the text mining technology is still undeveloped, CaseBank's R&D was looking for tools that would allow it explore the technology's potential and use it in a cost-effective manner. TextAnalyst not only demonstrated the availability of the required functionality, such as extraction of semantic networks and semantic network-based search, but also provided this functionality at an affordable price.

DELIVERABLES: TextAnalyst is used at CaseBank to identify and assess the contents of electronic repositories of troubleshooting and maintenance information. Its outputs are internally used by CaseBank to select topics and documents for case base development.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The technical and customer support provided by Megaputer has been prompt and professional.

DOCUMENTATION: The online help documentation is comprehensive and adequate on all aspects of the TextAnalyst's functionality. Additional documentation and white papers at Megaputer's Web site provide information for those who want to develop a better understanding of TextAnalyst's methodology.

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