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Pharmacogenomics J. 2002;2(2):96-102.

An introduction to information retrieval: applications in genomics.

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Center for Medical Informatics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8009, USA.


Information retrieval (IR) is the field of computer science that deals with the processing of documents containing free text, so that they can be rapidly retrieved based on keywords specified in a user's query. IR technology is the basis of Web-based search engines, and plays a vital role in biomedical research, because it is the foundation of software that supports literature search. Documents can be indexed by both the words they contain, as well as the concepts that can be matched to domain-specific thesauri; concept matching, however, poses several practical difficulties that make it unsuitable for use by itself. This article provides an introduction to IR and summarizes various applications of IR and related technologies to genomics.

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