In the English language, the root or underlying form of a word is called a stem. Stems serve as the basis for different variations of a word. For example, the word sell has the variants seller, selling, and sellable. The term stemming refers to the ability of Internet search engines to search for all of a word's possible variants to return more comprehensive search results. Therefore, someone searching for information about selling on the Internet could simply type in sell (or one of its variants, like seller) and the engine would return results with all possible variants of the word sell. This is obviously a great help for consumers and business professionals who conduct Internet research related to e-commerce.
Some Internet search engines, as well as the search tools and information retrieval systems on databases and other computer systems, allow users to enable or disable stemming. The manner by which this is achieved varies depending on how a search tool operates. On some applications it might involve checking a box or placing a character like the plus sign next to a word to enable the function. Conversely, a minus sign after a word, or some other character, might be used to disable the function. Stemming also can be used selectively, meaning that if someone were looking for information about selling apples, stemming could be enabled for the word selling, but not for the word apple. Therefore, irrelevant variations of the word apple, such as applet and applecart, would be excluded from the search results.
Stemming often is used as an alternative to wild-cards. Wildcards are symbols that can be substituted for a character or value during an information search. By including a dollar sign after the keyword sell (sell$), a search engine might look for Internet resources containing different variations of that word (sell, selling, and seller), working in a similar fashion to stemming.
"Stem Classes." The Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval. July 20, 2001. Available from ciir.cs.umass.edu/cgi-bin/stemming.
SEE ALSO: Search Engine Strategy
"Stemming." Gale Encyclopedia of E-Commerce. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stemming
"Stemming." Gale Encyclopedia of E-Commerce. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stemming
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.