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  Technical Report: Identifying and Understanding Dates and Times in Email

Identifying and Understanding Dates and Times in Email

Technical Report #:03-11
Author(s): Mia K. Stern
Category(s):Date Extraction, Time Extraction, Email, Unstructured Information Management
Full Citation:Copyright 2003, IBM. All rights reserved. IBM RC# 22875

Abstract

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Email is one of the “killer applications” of the internet, yet it is a mixed blessing for many users. While it is vital for communication, email has become the repository for much of a user’s important information, thus overloading email with other responsibilities. One way in which users overload their email is by using it as a calendar and a to-do list. People keep in their email reminders of meetings, events, and things to do by some deadline, all of which contain dates and times. Unfortunately, these emails can get lost amongst all the other emails. Because of the numerous ways dates and times can be expressed in written language, traditional searches are often not effective. In this paper, we discuss a technique to help users extract such calendar and deadline information from their emails by identifying dates and times within an email message. We believe identifying dates and times will help users organize their schedules better and find lost information more easily. In this paper, we discuss our approaches for this problem. We discuss syntactic methods used to find dates and times and semantic methods to understand them. We then present the results of two user studies conducted to determine the accuracy of our technique.

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