London Lucene/Solr Meetup – Introducing Marple & Solr Classification

A small crowd for this month’s London Lucene/Solr Meetup, kindly hosted by Barclays in their sumptuous Canary Wharf offices. I introduced the Meetup and spoke briefly on how Flax is currently looking for team members (want to work on a variety of cutting-edge open source search projects in the UK and abroad? Get in touch!) before introducing Flax’s Alan Woodward who introduced our new Lucene index inspection tool, Marple.

Alan told us how Marple was conceived at the Lucene4IR event in Glasgow last year and how coding started at our Lucene Hackday in London. Although the well-known tool Luke allows one to dive deep into Lucene indexes, it hasn’t kept up with recent additions to Lucene index structures and we also wanted to build a tool with a RESTful API and separate GUI to allow it to be run easily on our client’s indexes in a read-only mode. Alan demonstrated Marple’s features including how it allows one to see the ‘hidden’ Lucene index fields that Elasticsearch creates. The first release of Marple is out and we’d welcome any feedback and contributions.

Next up was Alessandro Benedetti with an engaging talk about Solr’s built-in document classification features, useful for everything from spam filtering to automatic product categorisation. Unlike many classification methods, this uses the Lucene index itself as the training set – this index must contain some documents with manually assigned classification fields. Either K-Nearest-Neighbour and Naive Bayes algorithms can be used to perform the classification via Solr’s UpdateRequestProcessor chain, in Solr versions after 6.1. You can read more detail on Alessandro’s excellent blog.

We concluded with a brief Q&A session and then popped downstairs to a pub for some snacks and drinks. Thanks to both our speakers, our hosts and all who came – we’ll return in a couple of months with talks that will include RenĂ© Kriegler on his neat Querqy query processor.

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