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Biotechniques. 2002 Jun;32(6):1380-2, 1384-5.

Computing fuzzy associations for the analysis of biological literature.

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  • 1European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany.


The increase of information in biology makes it difficult for researchers in any field to keep current with the literature. The MEDLINE database of scientific abstracts can be quickly scanned using electronic mechanisms. Potentially interesting abstracts can be selected by matching words joined by Boolean operators. However this means of selecting documents is not optimal. Nonspecific queries have to be effected, resulting in large numbers of irrelevant abstracts that have to be manually scanned To facilitate this analysis, we have developed a system that compiles a summary of subjects and related documents on the results of a MEDLINE query. For this, we have applied a fuzzy binary relation formalism that deduces relations between words present in a set of abstracts preprocessed with a standard grammatical tagger. Those relations are used to derive ensembles of related words and their associated subsets of abstracts. The algorithm can be used publicly at http://

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