In an error-free system with perfectly clean data, the construction of a global view of the data consists of linking - in relational terms, joining - two or more tables on their key fields. Unfortunately, most of the time, these data are neither carefully controlled for quality nor necessarily defined commonly across different data sources. As a result, the creation of such a global data view resorts to approximate joins. In this paper, an optimal solution is proposed for the matching or the linking of database record pairs in the presence of inconsistencies, errors or missing values in the data. Existing models for record matching rely on decision rules that minimize the probability of error, that is the probability that a sample (a measurement vector) is assigned to the wrong class. In practice though, minimizing the probability of error is not the best criterion to design a decision rule because the misclassifications of different samples may have different consequences. In this paper we present a decision model that minimizes the cost of making a decision. In particular: (a) we present a decision rule: (b) we prove that this rule is optimal with respect to the cost of a decision: and (c) we compute the probabilities of the two types of errors (Type I and Type II) that incur when this rule is applied. We also present a closed form decision model for a certain class of record comparison pairs along with an example, and results from comparing the proposed cost-based model to the error-based model, for large record comparison spaces.
The VLDB Journal – Springer Journals
Published: May 1, 2003
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