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Open Access Software

An open-source framework for large-scale, flexible evaluation of biomedical text mining systems

William A Baumgartner, K Bretonnel Cohen and Lawrence Hunter*

Author Affiliations

Center for Computational Pharmacology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA

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Journal of Biomedical Discovery and Collaboration 2008, 3:1  doi:10.1186/1747-5333-3-1

Published: 29 January 2008

Abstract

Background

Improved evaluation methodologies have been identified as a necessary prerequisite to the improvement of text mining theory and practice. This paper presents a publicly available framework that facilitates thorough, structured, and large-scale evaluations of text mining technologies. The extensibility of this framework and its ability to uncover system-wide characteristics by analyzing component parts as well as its usefulness for facilitating third-party application integration are demonstrated through examples in the biomedical domain.

Results

Our evaluation framework was assembled using the Unstructured Information Management Architecture. It was used to analyze a set of gene mention identification systems involving 225 combinations of system, evaluation corpus, and correctness measure. Interactions between all three were found to affect the relative rankings of the systems. A second experiment evaluated gene normalization system performance using as input 4,097 combinations of gene mention systems and gene mention system-combining strategies. Gene mention system recall is shown to affect gene normalization system performance much more than does gene mention system precision, and high gene normalization performance is shown to be achievable with remarkably low levels of gene mention system precision.

Conclusion

The software presented in this paper demonstrates the potential for novel discovery resulting from the structured evaluation of biomedical language processing systems, as well as the usefulness of such an evaluation framework for promoting collaboration between developers of biomedical language processing technologies. The code base is available as part of the BioNLP UIMA Component Repository on SourceForge.net.