Institute for Software Research
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Understanding People's Place Naming
Preferences in Location Sharing

Jailiu Lin, Guang Xiang,
Jason Hong, Norman Sadeh

March 2010


Also appears as CyLab Technical Report

This report supercedes CMU-ISR-09-121

Keywords: Location sharing, location-based service, location representation, place naming

Most location sharing applications display people's locations on a map. However, in practice, people use a rich variety of terms to refer to their locations when interacting with others, such as "home," "Starbucks," or "the bus stop near my house." Our long-term goal is to create a system that can automatically generate appropriate place names based on real-time context and user preferences. As a first step, we analyze data from a two-week study involving 26 participants in two different cities, focusing on how people refer to places in location sharing. We derive a taxonomy of different place naming methods, and show that factors such as a person's perceived familiarity with a place and the entropy of that place (i.e. the variety of people who visit it) strongly influence the way people refer to it when interacting with that person. We proceed with the description of a machine learning model for predicting how people name places. Using our data, this model is able to predict the place naming method people choose with an average accuracy higher than 85%.

24 pages

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