Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Cyber Operations


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Jason M. Turner, PhD


Boolean algebra was developed in the 1840s. Since that time, negation, one of the three basic concepts in Boolean algebra, has influenced the fields of information science and information retrieval, particularly in the modern computer era. In Web search engines, one of the present manifestations of information retrieval, little use is being made of this functionality and so little attention is given to it in the literature. This study aims to bolster the understanding of the use and usefulness of negation. Specifically, an Internet search task was developed for which negation was the most appropriate search strategy. This search task was performed by 30 individuals and followed by an interview designed to elicit more information about the participants’ use or non-use of negation during the task. Negation was observed to be used by approximately 17% of users in the study, suggesting that negation may indeed be infrequently used by Internet users. The data obtained during the post-task interview indicate that lack of use of negation stems from users not knowing about negation, having little experience with negation, or simply preferring other methods, even when negation is one of the foremost appropriate methods.

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