CEN/TC304 N860

Subject: Business plan for PT Matching

Date: 16 November 1998

Source: Marc Küster, leader of PT Matching

Status: This document will become part of a contract between STRI and PT Matching. It will be presented in the first half of the TC-plenary 24 November in Brussels,

Action: Comments to this document and other input to the work of PT Matching is welcome.



Business plan for PT Matching


What this project team sets out to achieve


The European Commission decided last year to found a project team that is to investigate the scope of further research on It will work under the supervision of CEN TC304 and to which it will deliver a draft study report by April_1999.

The problem of string matching - that is the question if two strings are to be considered equal - can be arbitrarily complex. Simple binary comparison between two strings is, of course, well understood and efficient, but fails to bridge even the most basic divergencies between semantically identical expressions, 1 the most simple of which might be that the data is stored in two different code pages.

The task soon becomes more ambitious. Human readers 2 will naturally recognize that sing, sang, song 3 are just three tenses of the very same verb, just as Žil and yeux differ only with respect to number. They will also not mix the German word Boot with its English homograph of completely different meaning, 4 whereas they understand at once that Pericles, Perikles and <Greek:>Perikl%?hw</Greek> are really one and the same person 5 and that browsing and scanning can be synonyms 6 in some contexts but not in others. 7

For English with its fairly limited number of irregular verbs and its otherwise regular construction of derived forms some of these problems can still be dealt with relatively easily in comparison with most other European languages where word formation is far more complex.

Intelligent matching becomes more relevant by the day in an increasingly interconnected world in which access to information is of primordial importance. However, even now cutting edge, high-performance search engines are not able to fulfil but the most basic of demands of European citizens. Modern databases try to defuse this situation by applying a rigid system of categorization via the introduction of some higher level protocol, 8 but this leaves aside the vast amount of existing information.

Scope of this project

This study aims "to investigate the European needs and problems with searching and browsing in relation to character sets, transliteration matching and ordering rules and other cultural specific elements." 9 It will present an overview about current research projects, their approaches and results, try to isolate major problems and suggest some tentative paths towards their solution. It will try to establish where solutions seem within easy reach, were approaches are likely to be fruitful in medium term and where no solutions can be expected in the foreseeable future.

The project team will collaborate closely not only with research institutes but also with major enterprises 1 working in the field. Search engines require here special attention. Furthermore, it will get in contact with relevant consortia such as the W3C and FIPA.

The aim of this study is to give an overview of current practice in Europe, of ongoing research projects and of desiderata.

In accordance with the schedule the project team shall deliver a draft report by week_16 in 1999 to be presented to the plenary of CEN TC304. This report can purposefully only serve as a starting point for further research which, subject to approval, this project team aims to pursue thereafter.


For the task of preparing this report CEN/TC304 established a project team of three experts in the field. Everybody is very welcome to contact the members of the project team.

Advising editor

John Clews

Director of SESAME Computer Projects

8 Avenue Road



United Kingdom

Tel: +44-1423 888 432

Email: Contact

Advising editor

Hans van der Laan


W._F._Hermanszijde 3

NL-2353-LT Leiderdorp

The Netherlands

Tel.: +31 71 541 6431

Email: Contact

Main editor

Marc Wilhelm Küster

Computing centre of the University of Tübingen

Dept. Literary and Documentary Data Processing

Wächterstraße 76

D-72074 Tübingen


Tel.: +49-7071-29 70348; +49-7071-29 70201

Fax: +49-7071-29 5912

Email: Contact

Working methods and schedule

Division of work

*Establishing of a dedicated E-mail list and maintaining of the project's Web site: main editor

*Continuous discussion of results: all pt members

*Contact with relevant institutions: all pt members

*Writing of the report: main editor

*Reviewing of the report: all pt members


Due to the unforeseeable changes in the setup of the project team the original schedule is no longer tenable. The project team hopes to be able to adhere to the following time frame.

*Contact with relevant institutions: From the start

*Continuous discussion among team members: From the start

*Open discussion within TC304: From March 1998 onwards

*Presentation of first draft for the Tübingen plenary of CEN/TC304 (week_16 in 1999)

*Presentation of the final draft for the following plenary of CEN/TC304 (week_XX in 1999)


1 "Expression" shall be used as an equivalent to "string of letters" on which this study shall concentrate

2 assuming that they are literate in the language(s) in question

3 problem of irregular verb and nouns forms. Declination and conjugation come in here

4 problem of disambiguation

5 problems of non standardized transliteration and of the handling of different scripts. Resolution of spelling ambiguities (e._g. Göthe vs. Goethe)

6 putting to use of thesauri

7 question of matching on natural languages

8 cf. in this context the diverse digital library projects

9 CEN/TC304 N739 (19.9.1997), P27,1

10 this would encompass major search engines such as AltaVista and Yahoo and major database vendors such as Oracle and Siemens