Semantic distance techniques

Although ontological representations provide a knowledge structure to represent connections between concepts, they do not provide a measure of how close, and thus important, these connections may be. Indicators of the degree of connection between terms can be calculated using various techniques, often including the use of search engines. The concept of semantic distance is powerful and can be used in a number of ways. One variation of this which was explored was to calculate the rate of change of semantic distance, which allowed areas of high growth to be identified. An example, of the use of this technique was to look for a correlation between new technology areas in learning, which had been chosen by experts, and growth rates in semantic distance calculated from statistics for research papers in the area. This analysis showed that it was possible to use this technique to help identify new areas of potential importance as long as results were treated carefully. The technique could also be extended in various ways, for instance to dig deeper into chosen areas to find more detailed trends.