Web Mining Sandra Stendahl, sanst303 Andreas Andersson, andan079 Gustav Strömberg, gusst250

Abstract This paper will look closer to different implementations on web mining and the importance of filtering out calls made from robots to get knowledge about the actual human usage of a website. This is to find patterns between different web pages and create more customized and accessible web pages to users, which in turn creates more traffic and trade to the website. We will address some common methods to find and eliminate the web usage made from robots while keeping browsing data made from human users intact. This paper will primarily focus on the field of web usage mining, which is a direct need from the growth of the World Wide Web.

1. Introduction Web mining deals with three main areas: web content mining, web usage mining and web structure mining. In web usage mining it is desirable to find the habits and relations between what the website’s users are looking for. To find the actual users some filtering has to be done to remove bots that indexes structures of a website. Robots view all pages and links on a website to find relevant content. This creates many calls to the website server and thereby creates a false image of the actual web usage. The paper we have chosen to start with [Tang et al. 2002] does not in depth discuss web content and web structure mining, but instead look closer upon web usage mining. This field is supposed to describe relations between web pages based on the interests of users, i.e. finding links often clicked in a specific order which are of greater relevance to the user. The patterns revealed will then be used to create a more visitor customized website by highlighting or otherwise expose web pages to increase commerce. This is often demonstrated as a price cut in one product which will increase sales in another. On the other hand it is also important to not to misclassify actual users that make thorough searches of websites and label them as robots. Another aspect of the web mining is the ethical aspect. To create patterns based on gender, sexual orientation or medical conditions can be considered unethical and should be avoided. From a pure scientific standpoint it might be interesting to find these relations but should be kept from individual users or forced to be declared. From this work we can derive negative and positive association rules [Antonie et al. 2004]. This finds how the correlation of two or more items relates to one another. A negative association


between items has a negative correlation and should in practice be kept apart from each other and vice versa for positive associations. This can greatly benefit web page accessibility, where users find interesting content tailor made for them individually.

2. Techniques to Address the Problem 2.1 Preprocessing technique - Web Robots

Figure 1. The pipeline of web mining When attempting to detect web robots from a stream it is desirable to monitor both the Web server log and activity on the client-side. What we are looking for is to distinguish single Web sessions from each other. A Web session is a series of requests to web pages, i.e. visits to web pages. Since the navigation patterns of web robots differs from the navigation patterns of human users the contribution from web robots has to be eliminated before proceeding with any further data mining, i.e. when we are looking into web usage behaviour of real users. One problem with identifying web robots is that they might hide their identity behind a facade looking a lot like conventional web browsers. Standard approaches to robot detection will fail to detect camouflaged web robots. As web robots are used for tasks like website indexing, e.g. by Google, or detection of broken links they have to exist. There is a special file on every domain called “robot.txt” which, according to the Robot Exclusion Standard [M. Koster, 1994], will be examined by the robot in order to prevent the robot from visiting certain pages of no interest. Evil web robots however aren’t guaranteed to follow the advice from robot.txt. 2.1.1 Detecting Web Robots To detect web robots [Tang et al., 2002] uses a technique involving feature classification is used. The classes chosen for evaluation are Temporal Features, Page Features, Communication Features and Path Features. It is desirable to be able to detect the presence of a web robot after as few requests as possible, this is ofcourse a tradeoff between computational effort and result accuracy. A simple decision model for determining the class of a visitor is to first check if the visitor requested


robots.txt, then it will be labeled as robot, second the visitor will be matched against a list of former known robots. Third the referer “-” is searched for, since robots seldom assign any value to the referer fields this is a rewarding place to look. If a robot is found, the list of known robots is updated with the new one. 2.1.2 Avoiding Mislabeled Sessions To avoid mislabeling of sessions an ensemble filtering approach [C. Brodley et al., 1999] is used, where the idea is to instead of just one model for classification, build several models which are used to find classification errors via finding single mislabeled sessions. The set of models acquired are used to classify all sessions respectively. For each session, the amount of false negative and false positive classifications are counted. A large value of false positive classifications imply that the session is currently assigned to be a non-robot despite being predicted to be a robot in most of the models. A large value of false negative classifications imply that the session might be a non-robot but has the robot classifier.

2.2 Mining Issue 2.2.1 Indirect Association Common association methods often employ patterns that connects objects to each other. Sometimes, on the other hand, it might be valuable to consider indirect association between objects. Indirect association is used to e.g. represent the behaviour of distinct user groups. In general, two objects that are indirectly associated have the same path, but are themselves distinct leafs to that path. That is, if one session is {A, B, C} and another is {A, B, D} then C and D are indirectly associated because they share the same traversal path {A, B}, also called “mediator”. The algorithm used to discover indirect associations first uses Apriori [R. Agrawal et al., 1994] to distinguish frequent itemsets, i.e. common sessions from single clients. The frequent itemsets are matched against each other in order to discover indirect association candidate triplets, , where a and b are indirectly associated values and M is their mediator. In the matching process a triplet is formed once an itemset L1 and another itemset L2 matches except for one position, that is where one has found indirect associated values. Each pair of indirectly associated values are noted in a matrix. The matrix will, after all candidates are considered, contain values combining indirect associated values. The larger a specific matrix value is, the stronger the indirect association. The mediators found for a specific pair of sessions can be considered slightly similar to a pruned tree, i.e. where the leaves are removed. 2.2.2 Clustering With the growth of the World Wide Web it can be very time consuming to analyze every web page on its own. Therefore it is a good idea to cluster web pages based on attributes that can be considered similar to find successful and less successful attributes and patterns.


There are many ways to cluster web pages before finding patterns. The most common method is the K-means algorithm but there are several more like Single pass, Fractionation, Buckshot, Suffix tree and Apriori All, which are described in [Sambasivan et al. 2006]. In [Sambasivan et al. 2006] they also measure the execution time of the algorithms. Common ways to gain attributes from web pages are to take specific keywords and comparing their relevance to the rest of the text or excerpts of the web page. Clustering algorithms does not have the responsibility of finding specific web pages but instead making sure that the web pages found are relevant to the users’ query. Similarities of two documents are measured by a distance function, which is computed by corresponding term vectors or attributes. The algorithms are arranged in hierarchical and partitional order. Partitional searches are compared to a cluster which yields a score and the pages with the highest score are returned as a result. In a hierarchical algorithm the search moves down a tree, choosing branches with the highest score or when it reaches a predetermined condition. The partitional algorithms are: K-means, Buckshot and Fractionation. Other algorithms are hierarchical. The Suffix tree algorithm starts with the data set as a whole and partitions it into gradually more granular clusters. Each cluster can be seen as a node with branches to smaller clusters. Single-pass uses a bottom up approach and starts at a granular level and analyzes an element of a web page to determine which cluster it should belong to. This is a highly threshold dependant algorithm where the user determines the threshold. Apriori All studies association rules and learns from the relations of items. A good example is when many users clicks a link and subsequently another link, which creates a relation between the links. K-means are based upon distance calculations between elements, where elements are labeled to their closest centroid. Centroids are randomly placed data points in the data set. After all the elements are assigned to a centroid the centroid is moved to the place which has the shortest summed distance to all its assigned elements. The Buckshot algorithm starts by randomly sampling the data set and then placing elements around the chosen samples into clusters. It is executed in rectangular time which makes it a fast method, but since it relies on random sampling the clusters can be less than optimal and different executions of the algorithm makes different clusters appear. Fractionation is a more processor demanding algorithm and more thorough. It divides the elements into more granular groups by iterating the clustering algorithm. The downside to Fractionation is that it is very time consuming.

2.3 Comparing methods The methods described simplifies the work of one another, they aren’t really competitors addressed to solve the same problem. Web robot detection is used to filter out human user sessions. Clustering is used to cluster similar websites into a more general description. The clustering allows the association methods, especially the indirect association method described here, to be ran as fast as



3. Applications Web mining is an important tool to gather knowledge of the behaviour of Websites’ visitors and thereby to allow for appropriate adjustments and decisions with respect to Websites’ actual users and traffic patterns. Along with a description of the processes involved in Web mining [Srivastava, 1999] states that Website Modification, System Improvement, Web Personalization and Business Intelligence are four major application areas for Web mining. These are briefly described in the following sections.

3.1 Website Modification The content and structure of the Website is important to the user experience/impression of the site and the site’s usability. The problem is that different types of users have different preferences, background, knowledge etc. making it difficult (if not impossible) to find a design that is optimal for all users. Web usage mining can then be used to detect which types of users are accessing the website, and their behaviour, knowledge which can then be used to manually design/re-design the website, or to automatically change the structure and content based on the profile of the user visiting it. Adaptive Websites are described in more detail in [Perkowitz & Etzioni. 1998].

3.2 System Improvement The performance and service of Websites can be improved using knowledge of the Web traffic in order to predict the navigation path of the current user. This may be used e.g. for cashing, load balancing or data distribution to improve the performance. The path prediction can also be used to detect fraud, break-ins, intrusion etc. [Srivastava, 1999].

3.3 Web Personalization Web Personalization is an attractive application area for Web based companies, allowing for recommendations, marketing campaigns etc. to be specifically customized for different categories of users, and more importantly to do this in real-time, automatically, as the user accesses the Website. For example, [Mobasher et. al. 1999] and [Yan et al. 1996] uses association rules and clustering for grouping users and discover the type of user currently accessing the Website (based of the user’s path through the Website), in real-time, to dynamically adapt hyperlinks and content of the Website.

3.4 Business Intelligence For Web based companies Web mining is a powerful tool to collect business intelligence to get competitive advantages. Patterns of the customers’ activities on the Website can be used as 5

important knowledge in the decision-making process, e.g. predicting customers’ future behaviour, recruiting new customers and developing new products are beneficial choices. There are many companies providing (among other things) services in the field of Web Mining and Web traffic analysis for extracting business intelligence, e.g.[BizInetl, 2011] and [WebTrends, 2011].

4. Summary Web mining consists of three major parts: collecting the data, preprocessing the data and extracting and analyzing patterns in the data. This paper focuses primarily on web usage data mining. As expected, using Web mining when designing and maintaining Websites is extremely useful for making sure that the Website conforms to the actual usage of the site. The area of Web mining was invented with respect to the needs of web shops, which wanted to be more adaptive to customers. A set of clustering techniques have been listed which significantly speeds up the process of mining data on the Web. The different techniques has a corresponding computation cost and time cost which can determine the technique of choice depending of the size of the data.

Bibliography Pang-Nin Tang, Vipin Kumar, “Mining association patterns in web usage data”. 2002 Magdalini Eirinaki, Michalis Vazirgiannis, “Web mining for web personalization”. 2003 Maria-Luiza Antonie, Osmar R. Zaïane, “Mining positive and negative association rules: An approach for confined rules”. 2004 M. Koster, “A standard for robot exclusion”, http://info.webcrawler.com/mak/projects/robots/ norobots.html, 1994 C. Brodley and M.A. Friedl, “Identifying mislabeled training data”, Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, vol. 11 pp. 131-167, 1999 Jaideep Srivastava, Robert Cooley, Mukund Deshpande, Pang-Ning Tan, “Web Usage Mining: Discovery and Applications of Usage Patterns from Web Data”. 1999 Mike Perkowitz, Oren Etzioni, “Adaptive Web Sites: Automatically Synthesizing Web Pages”. 1998 Tak Woon Yan, Matthew Jacobsen, Hector Garcia-Molina, Umeshwar Dayal, “From User Access Patterns to Dynamic Hypertext Linking”. 1996


Bamshad Mobasher, Robert Cooley, Jaideep Srivastava, “Creating Adaptive Web Sites Through Usage-Based Clustering of URLs”. 1999 BizIntel, http://www.bizintel.se/ (2011) webtrends, http://webtrends.com/ (2011) Samuel Sambasivan, Nick Theodosopoulos, “Advanced data clustering methods of mining web documents”. 2006 R. Agrawal and R. Skrikant. Fast algorithms for mining association rules. In Proc. of the 20th VLDB Conference, Santiago, Chile, 1994.


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