When you hear about entity extraction for the first time, you'll likely think of the search bar in a database or a search engine looking for keywords online. And then you might wonder what the difference is and if this is a thing that you can skip buying to help preserve your budget.
This is understandable because at first, all of these sound the same. However, there are concrete differences between the search bar in a database and entity extraction, and some differences between searching keywords in a search engine and using entity extraction software. Entity extraction allows for robust searches that help you establish relationships between entities. That search bar in your database program is much more basic.
Accounting for Variations
When you search for a term in a database, word-processing program, or even your laptop's main file folder, you can really only search for an exact word or phrase. If you search for "first-floor window," the program or computer will search for exactly "first-floor window." Not "first floor," not "window first floor," but those three words in exact order with a hyphen. Entity extraction will take the term you enter and search not only for that term but also for terms that are related that refer to the same thing. So if you search for "first-floor window," an entity extraction program will look for that plus variations like "first floor window" and "window first floor" because it's been programmed to accept that these terms are all referring to the same thing.
Extracting More Than One Term at Once
If you type "window" and "curtain" into your word-processing program's search bar, you'll get results for "window curtain." The minute you type something different (e.g., windows curtain), you'll get something else. In entity extraction, however, you'll get results for window curtains, window treatments, window drapes, and so on. But you'll also see results for windows without curtains and curtains alone. For a company that remodels home interiors, for example, that's much more helpful when looking through customer service tickets and emails when you want results that deal with anything to do with windows and curtains even if the tickets and emails aren't about both.
Extracting Something in Multiple Languages
Have you ever done a web search for something and found half your results in one language and half in another? They're all relevant results, just in different languages. That's a benefit of entity extraction because some programs have been created with this relationship in mind. When you type in, say, "donburi," the entity extraction program knows you're looking for either donburi (a specific style of recipe in Japanese cuisine) or a donburi pan (a specific cooking pan used to make donburi). It could give you results in English and in Japanese as it's been programmed with a translator function. If you were to type "donburi" into a simple database search bar that was not running an entity extraction program, you'd get only the results that use romanization, and you'd have to type in the actual Japanese kana or kanji to get any search results in Japanese.
Entity extraction has proven very valuable when you want to find relationships, rather than just an exact spelling.