Date of Graduation

12-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer Science (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Computer Science & Computer Engineering

Advisor

Susan Gauch

Committee Member

Craig W. Thompson

Second Committee Member

Gordon Beavers

Abstract

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to inhabit via avatars. Content in virtual worlds such as Second Life or OpenSimulator is increasingly presented using three-dimensional (3D) dynamic presentation technologies that challenge traditional search technologies. As 3D environments become both more prevalent and more fragmented, the need for a data crawler and distributed search service will continue to grow. By increasing the visibility of content across virtual world servers in order to better collect and integrate the 3D data we can also improve the crawling and searching efficiency and accuracy by avoiding crawling unchanged regions or downloading unmodified objects that already exist in our collection. This will help to save bandwidth resources and Internet traffic during the content collection and indexing and, for a fixed amount of bandwidth, maximize the freshness of the collection. This work presents a new services paradigm for virtual world crawler interaction that is co-operative and exploits information about 3D objects in the virtual world. Our approach supports analyzing redundant information crawled from virtual worlds in order to decrease the amount of data collected by crawlers, keep search engine collections up to date, and provide an efficient mechanism for collecting and searching information from multiple virtual worlds. Experimental results with data crawled from Second Life servers demonstrate that our approach provides the ability to save crawling bandwidth consumption, to explore more hidden objects and new regions to be crawled that facilitate the search service in virtual worlds.

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