It has often been thought that word sense ambiguity is a cause of poor performance in Information Retrieval\ud (IR) systems. The belief is that if ambiguous words can be correctly disambiguated, IR performance will\ud increase. However, recent research into the application of a word sense disambiguator to an IR system failed\ud to show any performance increase. From these results it has become clear that more basic research is needed\ud to investigate the relationship between sense ambiguity, disambiguation, and IR.\ud \ud Using a technique that introduces additional sense ambiguity into a collection, this paper presents research\ud that goes beyond previous work in this field to reveal the influence that ambiguity and disambiguation have\ud on a probabilistic IR system. We conclude that word sense ambiguity is only problematic to an IR system\ud when it is retrieving from very short queries. In addition we argue that if a word sense disambiguator is to\ud be of any use to an IR system, the disambiguator must be able to resolve word senses to a high degree of\ud accuracy
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