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Enable Semantic Search on Tables and Columns

Describes how to enable or disable statistical semantic indexing on selected columns that contain documents or text.

Statistical Semantic Search uses the indexes that are created by Full-Text Search, and creates additional indexes. As a result of this dependency on full-text search, you create a new semantic index when you define a new full-text index, or when you alter an existing full-text index. You can create a new semantic index by using Transact-SQL statements, or by using the Full-Text Indexing Wizard and other dialog boxes in SQL Server Management Studio, as described in this topic.

Requirements and Restrictions for Creating a Semantic Index

  • You can create an index on any of the database objects that are supported for full-text indexing, including tables and indexed views.

  • Before you can enable semantic indexing for specific columns, the following prerequisites must exist:

    • A full-text catalog must exist for the database.

    • The table must have a full-text index.

    • The selected columns must participate in the full-text index.

    You can create and enable all these requirements at the same time.

  • You can create a semantic index on columns that have any of the data types that are supported for full-text indexing. For more information, see Create and Manage Full-Text Indexes.

  • You can specify any document type that is supported for full-text indexing for varbinary(max) columns. For more information, see How To: Determine Which Document Types Can Be Indexed in this topic.

  • Semantic indexing creates two types of indexes for the columns that you select – an index of key phrases, and an index of document similarity. You cannot select only one type of index or the other when you enable semantic indexing. However you can query these two indexes independently. For more information, see Find Key Phrases in Documents with Semantic Search and Find Similar and Related Documents with Semantic Search.

  • If you do not explicitly specify an LCID for a semantic index, then only the primary language and its associated language statistics are used for semantic indexing.

  • If you specify a language for a column for which the language model is not available, the creation of the index fails and returns an error message.

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How To: Create a Semantic Index When There Is No Full-Text Index

When you create a new full-text index with the CREATE FULLTEXT INDEX statement, you can enable semantic indexing at the column level by specifying the keyword STATISTICAL_SEMANTICS as part of the column definition. You can also enable semantic indexing when you use the Full-Text Indexing Wizard to create a new full-text index.

Create a new semantic index by using Transact-SQL

Call the CREATE FULLTEXT INDEX statement and specify STATISTICAL_SEMANTICS for each column on which you want to create a semantic index. For more information about all the options for this statement, see CREATE FULLTEXT INDEX (Transact-SQL).

Example 1: Create a unique index, full-text index, and semantic index

The following example creates a default full-text catalog, ft. The example then creates a unique index on the JobCandidateID column of the HumanResources.JobCandidate table of the AdventureWorks2012 sample database. This unique index is required as the key column for a full-text index. The example then creates a full-text index and a semantic index on the Resume column.

CREATE FULLTEXT CATALOG ft AS DEFAULT
GO

CREATE UNIQUE INDEX ui_ukJobCand
    ON HumanResources.JobCandidate(JobCandidateID)
GO

CREATE FULLTEXT INDEX ON HumanResources.JobCandidate
    (Resume
        Language 1033
        Statistical_Semantics
    ) 
    KEY INDEX JobCandidateID 
    WITH STOPLIST = SYSTEM
GO

Example 2: Create a full-text and semantic index on several columns with delayed index population

The following example creates a full-text catalog, documents_catalog, in the AdventureWorks2012 sample database. The example then creates a full-text index that uses this new catalog. The full-text index is created on the Title, DocumentSummary, and Document columns of the Production.Document table, while the semantic index is only created on the Document column. This full-text index uses the newly-created full-text catalog and an existing unique key index, PK_Document_DocumentID. As recommended, this index key is created on an integer column, DocumentID. The example specifies the LCID for English, 1033, which is the language of the data in the columns.

This example also specifies that change tracking is off with no population. Later, during off-peak hours, the example uses an ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX statement to start a full population on the new index and enable automatic change tracking.

CREATE FULLTEXT CATALOG documents_catalog
GO

CREATE FULLTEXT INDEX ON Production.Document
    ( 
    Title
        Language 1033, 
    DocumentSummary
        Language 1033, 
    Document 
        TYPE COLUMN FileExtension
        Language 1033
        Statistical_Semantics
    )
    KEY INDEX PK_Document_DocumentID
        ON documents_catalog
        WITH CHANGE_TRACKING OFF, NO POPULATION
GO

Later, at an off-peak time, the index is populated:

ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX ON Production.Document SET CHANGE_TRACKING AUTO
GO
Create a new semantic index by using SQL Server Management Studio

Run the Full-Text Indexing Wizard and enable Statistical Semantics on the Select Table Columns page for each column on which you want to create a semantic index. For more information, including information about how to start the Full-Text Indexing Wizard, see Use the Full-Text Indexing Wizard.

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How To: Create a Semantic Index When There Is an Existing Full-Text Index

You can add semantic indexing when you alter an existing full-text index with the ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX statement. You can also add semantic indexing by using various dialog boxes in SQL Server Management Studio.

Add a semantic index by using Transact-SQL

Call the ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX statement with the options described below for each column on which you want to add a semantic index. For more information about all the options for this statement, see ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX (Transact-SQL).

Both full-text and semantic indexes are repopulated after a call to ALTER, unless you specify otherwise.

  • To add full-text indexing only to a column, use the ADD syntax.

  • To add both full-text and semantic indexing to a column, use the ADD syntax with the STATISTICAL_SEMANTICS option.

  • To add semantic indexing to a column that is already enabled for full-text indexing, use the ADD STATISTICAL_SEMANTICS option. You can only add semantic indexing to one column in a single ALTER statement.

Example: Add semantic indexing to a column that already has full-text indexing

The following example alters an existing full-text index on Production.Document table in AdventureWorks2012 sample database. The example adds a semantic index on the Document column of the Production.Document table, which already has a full-text index. The example specifies that the index will not be repopulated automatically.

ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX ON Production.Document
    ALTER COLUMN Document
        ADD Statistical_Semantics
    WITH NO POPULATION
GO
Add a semantic index by using SQL Server Management Studio

You can change the columns that are enabled for semantic and full-text indexing on the Full-Text Index Columns page of the Full-Text Index Properties dialog box. For more information, see Manage Full-Text Indexes.

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Requirements and Restrictions for Altering an Existing Index

  • You cannot alter an existing index while population of the index is in progress. For more information on monitoring the progress of index population, see Manage and Monitor Semantic Search.

  • You cannot add indexing to a column, and alter or drop indexing for the same column, in a single call to the ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX statement.

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How to: Drop a Semantic Index

You can drop semantic indexing when you alter an existing full-text index with the ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX statement. You can also drop semantic indexing by using various dialog boxes in SQL Server Management Studio.

Drop a semantic index by using Transact-SQL
  • To drop semantic indexing only from a column or columns, call the ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX statement with the ALTER COLUMN column_name DROP STATISTICAL_SEMANTICS option. You can drop the indexing from multiple columns in a single ALTER statement.

    
                        USE database_name
    GO
    
    ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX
        ALTER COLUMN column_name
        DROP STATISTICAL_SEMANTICS
    GO
                      
    
  • To drop both full-text and semantic indexing from a column, call the ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX statement with the ALTER COLUMN column_name DROP option.

    
                        USE database_name
    GO
    
    ALTER FULLTEXT INDEX
        ALTER COLUMN column_name
        DROP
    GO
                      
    
Drop a semantic index by using SQL Server Management Studio

You can change the columns that are enabled for semantic and full-text indexing on the Full-Text Index Columns page of the Full-Text Index Properties dialog box. For more information, see Manage Full-Text Indexes.

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Requirements and Restrictions for Dropping a Semantic Index

  • You cannot drop full-text indexing from a column while retaining semantic indexing. Semantic indexing depends on full-text indexing for document similarity results.

  • You cannot specify the NO POPULATION option when you drop semantic indexing from the last column in a table for which semantic indexing was enabled. A population cycle is required to remove the results that were indexed previously.

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How To: Check Whether Semantic Search Is Enabled on Database Objects

Is semantic search enabled for a database?

Query the IsFullTextEnabled property of the DATABASEPROPERTYEX (Transact-SQL) metadata function.

A return value of 1 indicates that full-text search and semantic search are enabled for the database; a return value of 0 indicates that they are not enabled.


                SELECT DATABASEPROPERTYEX('database_name', 'IsFullTextEnabled')
GO
              
Is semantic search enabled for a table?

Query the TableFullTextSemanticExtraction property of the OBJECTPROPERTYEX (Transact-SQL) metadata function.

A return value of 1 indicates that semantic search is enabled for the table; a return value of 0 indicates that it is not enabled.


                SELECT OBJECTPROPERTYEX(OBJECT_ID('table_name'), 'TableFullTextSemanticExtraction')
GO
              
Is semantic search enabled for a column?

To determine whether semantic search is enabled for a specific column:

  • Query the StatisticalSemantics property of the COLUMNPROPERTY (Transact-SQL) metadata function.

    A return value of 1 indicates that semantic search is enabled for the column; a return value of 0 indicates that it is not enabled.

    
                        SELECT COLUMNPROPERTY(OBJECT_ID('table_name'), 'column_name', 'StatisticalSemantics')
    GO
                      
    
  • Query the catalog view sys.fulltext_index_columns (Transact-SQL) for the full-text index.

    A value of 1 in the statistical_semantics column indicates that the specified column is enabled for semantic indexing in addition to full-text indexing.

    
                        SELECT * FROM sys.fulltext_index_columns WHERE object_id = OBJECT_ID('table_name')
    GO
                      
    
  • In Object Explorer in Management Studio, right-click on a column and select Properties. On the General page of the Column Properties dialog box, check the value of the Statistical Semantics property.

    A value of True indicates that the specified column is enabled for semantic indexing in addition to full-text indexing.

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How To: Check Which Languages Are Supported for Semantic Search

Important note Important

Fewer languages are supported for semantic indexing than for full-text indexing. As a result, there may be columns that you can index for full-text search, but not for semantic search.

Query the catalog view sys.fulltext_semantic_languages (Transact-SQL).

SELECT * FROM sys.fulltext_semantic_languages
GO

The following languages are supported for semantic indexing. This list represents the output of the catalog view sys.fulltext_semantic_languages (Transact-SQL), ordered by LCID.

Language

LCID

German

1031

English (US)

1033

French

1036

Italian

1040

Portuguese (Brazil)

1046

Russian

1049

Swedish

1053

English (UK)

2057

Portuguese (Portugal)

2070

Spanish

3082

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How To: Determine Which Document Types Can Be Indexed

Query the catalog view sys.fulltext_document_types (Transact-SQL).

If the document type that you want to index is not in the list of supported types, then you may have to locate, download, and install additional filters. For more information, see View or Change Registered Filters and Word Breakers.

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Consider creating a separate filegroup for the full-text and semantic indexes if disk space allocation is a concern. The semantic indexes are created in the same filegroup as the full-text index. A fully populated semantic index may contain large amount of data.

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Was a non-Unicode LCID specified for a Unicode language?

It is possible to enable semantic indexing on a non-Unicode column type with an LCID for a language that only has Unicode words, such as LCID 1049 for Russian. In this case, no results will ever be returned from the semantic indexes on this column.

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