CrowdER: Crowdsourcing Entity Resolution

Entity resolution is central to data integration and data cleaning. Algorithmic approaches have been improving in quality, but remain far from perfect. Crowdsourcing platforms offer a more accurate but expensive (and slow) way to bring human insight into the process. Previous work has proposed batching verification tasks for presentation to human workers but even with batching, a human-only approach is infeasible for data sets of even moderate size, due to the large numbers of matches to be tested.

Instead, we propose a hybrid human-machine approach in which machines are used to do an initial, coarse pass over all the data, and people are used to verify only the most likely matching pairs. We show that for such a hybrid system, generating the minimum number of verification tasks of a given size is NP-Hard, but we develop a novel two-tiered heuristic approach for creating batched tasks. We describe this method, and present the results of extensive experiments on real data sets using a popular crowdsourcing platform. The experiments show that our hybrid approach achieves both good efficiency and high accuracy compared to machine-only or human-only alternatives.