Synthesizing products for online catalogs

Hoa Nguyen, Ariel Fuxman, Stelios Paparizos, Juliana Freire, Rakesh Agrawal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A comprehensive product catalog is essential to the success of Product Search engines and shopping sites such as Yahoo! Shopping, Google Product Search, and Bing Shopping. Given the large number of products and the speed at which they are released to the market, keeping catalogs up-to-date becomes a challenging task, calling for the need of automated techniques. In this paper, we introduce the problem of product synthesis, a key component of catalog creation and maintenance. Given a set of offers advertised by merchants, the goal is to identify new products and add them to the catalog, together with their (structured) attributes. A fundamental challenge in product synthesis is the scale of the problem. A Product Search engine receives data from thousands of merchants about millions of products; the product taxonomy contains thousands of categories, where each category has a different schema; and merchants use representations for products that are different from the ones used in the catalog of the Product Search engine. We propose a system that provides an end-to-end solution to the product synthesis problem, and addresses issues involved in data extraction from offers, schema reconciliation, and data fusion. For the schema reconciliation component, we developed a novel and scalable technique for schema matching which leverages knowledge about previously-known instance-level associations between offers and products; and it is trained using automatically created training sets (no manually-labeled data is needed). We present an experimental evaluation using data from Bing Shopping for more than 800K offers, a thousand merchants, and 400 categories. The evaluation confirms that our approach is able to automatically generate a large number of accurate product specifications. Furthermore, the evaluation shows that our schema reconciliation component outperforms state-of-the-art schema matching techniques in terms of precision and recall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the VLDB Endowment
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • General Computer Science


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