The University of Sussex

A Comparison of algorithms for Hypertext notes network linearisation

Mike Sharples, Andrew Clutterbuck, James Goodlet

New computer-based writing environments are being developed which combine a hypertext 'ideas organiser' with a text editor. We compare two algorithms which could be used in such environments for turning networks of notes representing ideas into linear draft documents. The algorithms treat the notes network as a directed, labelled graph and they are designed to produce a linear ordering of the notes which is acceptable to the writer as a first draft of the document. The experiments test the effectiveness of the algorithms by asking subjects to create notes networks which are then linearised by the two algorithms. The resulting linearisations, plus a random ordering of nodes and a linearisation created by hand, are assessed for textual organisation. The experiments indicate that both algorithms produce linearisations which are acceptable as draft texts, that the 'best first' algorithm is marginally superior, and that providing information about link types to the algorithms has little effect on their effectiveness. The paper concludes by describing an implementation of the best first algorithm as part of the Writer's Assistant writing environment.

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