Good Applications for Crummy Entity Linkers? The Case of Corpus Selection in Digital Humanities

Alex Olieman, Kaspar Beelen, Milan Lange, van, Jaap Kamps, Maarten Marx

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientificpeer-review


Over the last decade we have made great progress in entity linking (EL) systems, but performance may vary depending on the context and, arguably, there are even principled limitations prevent a "perfect" EL system. This also suggests that there may be applications for which current "imperfect" EL is already very useful, and makes finding the "right" application as important as building the "right" EL system.

We investigate the Digital Humanities use case, where scholars spend a considerable amount of time selecting relevant source texts. We developed WideNet; a semantically-enhanced search tool which leverages the strengths of (imperfect) EL without getting in the way of its expert users. We evaluate this tool in two historical case-studies aiming to collect a set of references to historical periods in parliamentary debates from the last two decades; the first targeted the Dutch Golden Age, and the second World War II.

The case-studies conclude with a critical reflection on the utility of WideNet for this kind of research, after which we outline how such a real-world application can help to improve EL technology in general.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventSEMANTiCS 2017 - De Meervaart, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 11 Sept 201714 Sept 2017


ConferenceSEMANTiCS 2017
OtherSEMANTiCS 2017 is an international event on Linked Data and the Semantic Web where business users, vendors and academia meet. Widely recognized to be of pivotal importance, it is the thirteenth edition of a well-attended yearly conference that started back in 2005. It offers keynotes by world-class practitioners, presentations and field reports in diverse tracks, talks addressing a variety of topics, and panel discussions. And, of course, ample opportunities for networking and meeting like-minded professionals in an informal setting.
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  • entity linking
  • digital humanities
  • corpus selection


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