An algorithm for automatic collation of vocabulary decks based on word frequency

Zeynep Yücel, Parisa Supitayakul, Akito Monden, Pattara Leelaprute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This study focuses on computer based foreign language vocabulary learning systems. Our objective is to automatically build vocabulary decks with desired levels of relative difficulty relations. To realize this goal, we exploit the fact that word frequency is a good indicator of vocabulary difficulty. Subsequently, for composing the decks, we pose two requirements as uniformity and diversity. Namely, the difficulty level of the cards in the same deck needs to be uniform enough so that they can be grouped together and difficulty levels of the cards in different decks need to be diverse enough so that they can be grouped in different decks. To assess uniformity and diversity, we use rank-biserial correlation and propose an iterative algorithm, which helps in attaining desired levels of uniformity and diversity based on word frequency in daily use of language. In experiments, we employed a spaced repetition flashcard software and presented users various decks built with the proposed algorithm, which contain cards from different content types. From users' activity logs, we derived several behavioral variables and examined the polyserial correlation between these variables and difficulty levels across different word classes. This analysis confirmed that the decks compiled with the proposed algorithm induce an effect on behavioral variables in line with the expectations. In addition, a series of experiments with decks involving varying content types confirmed that this relation is independent of word class.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1865-1874
Number of pages10
JournalIEICE Transactions on Information and Systems
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020


  • E-learning
  • Log file analysis
  • Vocabulary learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


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