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 DAYTON, Ohio, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Mead Data Central, Inc. today unveiled a major new feature of its LEXIS(R)/NEXIS(R) online services at the Online/CD-ROM '93 conference in Washington, D.C. The FREESTYLE(TM) feature uses a technology called "associative retrieval" to allow users to enter search requests in plain English. No knowledge of Boolean search logic -- the traditional method of online research -- is required to use this new feature.
 "The FREESTYLE feature offers our customers yet another powerful option to choose from when deciding how to conduct their online research," said Rod Everhart, president of Mead Data Central. "FREESTYLE will be available in virtually all libraries across both the LEXIS(R) and NEXIS(R) services, making it the first non-Boolean product which can be used in both legal as well as non-legal sources such as news and business information files."
 The FREESTYLE feature is the latest in a long line of system enhancements introduced by Mead Data Central this year, all of which were designed to increase the ease of using the services as well as increasing overall efficiency and accuracy of online searching.
 While traditional Boolean research requires fairly rigid structuring on search requests, including the use of special terms and connectors, the FREESTYLE feature offers an intuitive, easy to use, alternate method of online research. For example to search for documents about a custody issue, a user might enter a Boolean search such as "natural OR biological w/10 parent w/20 custody w/20 adopt! w/5 child!." Using the FREESTYLE feature, the user could simply enter a request such as "When can biological parents regain custody of adopted children after an adoption?."
 "The FREESTYLE feature further expands the comprehensiveness and user-friendliness of the LEXIS/NEXIS services," said Everhart. "For people who have never learned Boolean or have never become quite comfortable with it, the FREESTYLE feature offers an attractive alternative. For our many users already expert at using Boolean search techniques, the FREESTYLE feature offers a complementary research method worth incorporating since search results are often different when the FREESTYLE feature is used compared to when a Boolean search on the same topic is entered."
 "We have conducted an unprecedented amount of usability testing on the FREESTYLE feature, taking into account customers' requests and their suggestions for improvement over competitive products," said Dr. Allan Lu, research scientist at Mead Data Central. "The result is an extremely user-friendly associative retrieval search system with many competitive advantages." Lu, who holds a doctorate in Information Retrieval, was one of the major players in the research and development activities related to the FREESTYLE feature; he developed the algorithms and the prototype used for the feature.
 The FREESTYLE feature processes a search request by identifying significant terms and phrases, and removing words that do not contribute to the search. Using mathematical algorithms, the feature then applies an analysis which weights the statistical relevancy of the search terms with the terms in the data being searched. The more uncommon the word is, the greater weight it is given.
 Normally, the documents retrieved by the FREESTYLE feature are displayed in order of statistical relevance, with the documents that most closely match your search request displaying first. However, users can choose to have the documents sorted instead in reverse chronological order, if they wish. In addition, two "feedback screens" -- WHY and WHERE -- are available that detail why the FREESTYLE feature selected the documents it did and where search terms appear within the set of retrieved documents. This feedback enables the user to adjust a search description if it is not retrieving exactly what the user intended.
 "Through both the design of the FREESTYLE feature and in our training and customer service efforts, we clarify for our customers how the FREESTYLE feature works and when it is best to use it," said Everhart. "Our interest is not merely to promote an exciting new feature, but to help customers get the best information they can in the best computer assisted research system available -- the LEXIS/NEXIS services."
 The FREESTYLE feature will be made available to selected groups of customers during a special preview period scheduled to begin in late November. It will be made available to additional LEXIS/NEXIS customers during the first quarter of 1994.
 Mead Data Central, Inc. provides LEXIS and NEXIS, the world's leading full-text, online legal, news, and business information services. Mead Data Central is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Mead Corporation (NYSE: MEA), a leader in forest products and electronic publishing. Both companies have headquarters in Dayton, Ohio.
 -0- 11/1/93
 /CONTACT: Monica Schiffler, 513-865-1519, Judi Schultz, 513-865-7466, or Anthony Sprauve, 513-865-7606, all of Mead Data Central/

CO: Mead Data Central ST: Ohio IN: CPR PUB SU: PDT

BM-LC -- CL014 -- 9030 11/01/93 09:50 EST
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Date:Nov 1, 1993

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