PVLDB 9(4): 312-323 (2015)
Abstract. Entity Resolution constitutes a core task for data integration that, due to its quadratic complexity, typically scales to large datasets through blocking methods. These can be configured in two ways. The schema-based configuration relies on schema information in order to select signatures of high distinctiveness and low noise, while the schema-agnostic one treats every token from all attribute values as a signature. The latter approach has significant potential, as it requires no fine-tuning by human experts and it applies to heterogeneous data. Yet, there is no systematic study on its relative performance with respect to the schema-based configuration. This work covers this gap by comparing analytically the two configurations in terms of effectiveness, time efficiency and scalability. We apply them to 9 established blocking methods and to 11 benchmarks of structured data. We provide valuable insights into the internal functionality of the blocking methods with the help of a novel taxonomy. Our studies reveal that the schema-agnostic configuration offers unsupervised and robust definition of blocking keys under versatile settings, trading a higher computational cost for a consistently higher recall than the schema-based one. It also enables the use of state-of-the-art blocking methods without schema knowledge.