Ariadne's Thread: Interactive Context Explorer

The Ariadne's Thread: Interactive Context Explorer is designed to visualize the networks of entities associated with bibliographic records. It allows users to interactively explore the local context of the interested entities, which could be already catalogued in the bibliographic records (e.g. journal, authors, Dewey decimal codes, publishers, subject headings, etc.) or topical terms extracted from the free text metadata fields (e.g. title, abstract, etc.).


Ariadne @ ArticleFirst built and operates on 65 million WorldCat ArticleFirst records

Ariadne @ WorldCat built and operates on 300+ million WorldCat catalog records

Ariadne @ Astrophisics built and operates on 111K Astronomy and Astrophysics journal articles


  • gravity shows the topical terms, subjects, journal, cluster assignments which are most related to "subject:gravity"
  • c5 2 shows the textual context of a cluster which consists of 8954 Astronomy and Astrophysics articles
  • Prekindergarten shows topical terms, journals and authors which are most related to “prekindergarten”
  • 围棋 shows authors strings, VIAF IDs, publishers and topical terms related to Go (围棋)
  • Corrosion shows clusters of journals related to “corrosion”
  • Cao xueqin shows authors related to the author name string “cao xueqin”, the author of one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature.
  • "Digital Humanities" is a new field at the interface of library services, information science, and many humanities field. Among them computational linguistics and literary studies are most forerunning. This is visible in Ariadne, when selected for contextualisation journals and Dewey classes.
  • "Climate change" is most connected to vocabulary which is very known from current societal discourse. Sharpening the context by selecting journals and Dewey, we see in how many different journals and disciplines "climate change" is debated, and hence how many different perspective one can have on it.

Starting from a query, either a single term or a string of words, the interface presents a networked visualisation of the entities which are most related to the query. These entities could be topical terms, authors, journals, subject headings, etc. and they form the local context of the query. The positions of these entities are determined by their relatedness to the query and to the other entities in the network. Each entity node is clickable and once clicked, a new visualisation of the context of the selected entity is presented. This browsing through clicks provides a means of shifting visual contexts about entities of interest to the user and facilitates visual exploration of entities and their contexts.                                               

The Ariadne's Thread: Interactive Context Explorer operates on a semantic matrix that is built from co-occurrence statistics collected from a large-scale bibliographic database (e.g., ArticleFirst, WorldCat). Random Projection is used to reduce the dimensionality of the co-occurrence matrix to a manageable size which guarantees the responsiveness of the online interface.

Related outputs


  • Gläser, A. Scharnhorst, W. Glänzel (eds.) Same data – different results? Towards a comparative approach to the identification of thematic structures in science, Special Issue of Scientometrics (2017):
    • Koopman, Rob, Shenghui Wang, and Andrea Scharnhorst. "Contextualization of topics—browsing through the universe of bibliographic information." DOI 10.1007/s11192-017-2303-4
    • Koopman Rob, and Shenghui Wang. "Mutual information based labelling and comparing clusters." DOI 10.1007/s11192-017-2305-2
    • Wang, Shenghui, and Rob Koopman. "Clustering articles based on semantic similarity." DOI 10.1007/s11192-017-2298-x 
    • Velden, Theresa, Kevin W. Boyack, Jochen Gläser, Rob Koopman, Andrea Scharnhorst, and Shenghui Wang. "Comparison of topic extraction approaches and their results." DOI 10.1007/s11192-017-2306-1.
  • Bar-Ilan, J., John, M., Koopman, R., Wang, S., Mayr, P., Scharnhorst, A. and Wolfram, D. (2016), "Bibliometrics and information retrieval: Creating knowledge through research synergies." Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 53: 1–4. doi:10.1002/pra2.2016.14505301023;jsessionid=A1FF7513097D14FEC247214FBD435703.f03t04
  • Koopman, Rob, Shenghui Wang, Andrea Scharnhorst, and Gwenn Englebienne. 2015. "Ariadne's Thread: Interactive Navigation in a World of Networked Information." In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA '15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1833-1838. DOI=10.1145/2702613.2732781 Preprint, Poster
  • Koopman, Rob, Shenghui Wang and Andrea Scharnhorst. 2015. “Contextualization of topics - browsing through terms, authors, journals and cluster allocations”. In Proceedings of 15th International Conference on Scientometrics & Informetrics. Istanbul, Turkey. Preprint
  • Koopman, Rob, and Shenghui Wang. 2014. “Where Should I Publish? Detecting Journal Similarity Based on What Has Been Published There.” In Proceedings of Digital Libraries 2014, 483–484. London, United Kingdom. Association for Computing Machinery. DOI=10.1109/JCDL.2014.6970236 Paper, Poster


  • Koopman, R and Wang, S. "Our journey with semantic embedding." Fourth Annual KnoweScape Conference (KnowEscape2017), Sofia, Bulgaria, 22-24 Feb 2017. Slides
  • Wang, S. "Linking entities via semantic indexing." OCLC EMEA Regional Council Meeting, Berlin, 21-22 Feb 2017. Slides
  • Wang, S. and Koopman, R. "Semantic indexing for KOS." KnoweScape Workshop "Observatory for Knowledge Organisation Systems", Valletta, Malta, 1-3 Feb 2017. Slides
  • Wang, Shenghui and Rob Koopman. "Exploring a world of networked information built from free-text metadata." Presented at ELAG2015, Stockholm, Sweden, 8-11 June 2015. Slides
  • Wang, Shenghui and Rob Koopman. "Exploring a world of networked information built from free-text metadata." Presented at the eHumanities group of KNAW, 12 March 2015.
  • Koopman, Rob and Shenghui Wang. "Ariadne’s thread – interactive navigation in a world of networked information." Presented at Second Annual KnowEscape Conference – KnowEscape2014. Thessaloniki, Greece, 24-26 November 2014.


The Ariadne project is a demonstration of knowledge extraction using text-mining algorithms. It is generalisable to be applied to different bibliographic datasets and has implications for author name disambiguation, authority control, entity identification, and the promotion of text to structured data.

Most recent updates: Page content: 2015-09-30 Prototype: 2015

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Ariadne @ ArticleFirst built and operates on 65 million WorldCat ArticleFirst records

Ariadne @ WorldCat built and operates on 300+ million WorldCat catalog records

Ariadne @ Astrophisics built from 300+ million WorldCat catalog records

Team Members

Rob Koopman

Shenghui Wang