Welcome to a new edition of Informer! It’s Spring 2017 and you are reading the official newsletter of the BCS Information Retrieval Specialist Group. What an honour to have YOU as our readership. Let’s jump straight in: we did introduce an important change this time. We Continue reading “Editorial”
By Luca Soldaini on April 28, 2017
For its 39th edition, the European Conference in Information Retrieval (ECIR) returned, after 20 years, to Aberdeen, Scotland. The conference was organized by the School of Computing Science and Digital Media at Robert Gordon University (RGU) and took place in two separate venues: tutorials and workshops were held at RGU’s Garthdee campus, while the main conference, as well as the industry day, were hosted by the Aberdeen Exhibition Conference Center. The wonderful backdrop of ECIR was the city of Aberdeen, also known as the Granite City; the origin of this nickname can be traced to the high number of buildings in the city that incorporate grey granite.The granite sparkles under the sunlight; thanks to five days of almost perfect weather, conference attendees were able to enjoy this beautiful effect.
By Frank Hopfgartner on April 28, 2017
This issue we include another Call for Reviews in which we seek reviewers for a number of recently published books that may be of interest to the IR community. Books will be allocated for review on a first-come-first-served basis and you would have about one month to carry out the review. If you are interested in reviewing one of these books, please let Frank know which book you are interested in reviewing and we will arrange for a copy (paper or online format) to be sent to you along with review guidelines. The currently available books (courtesy of Springer Verlag) are:
By Tony Russell-Rose on April 23, 2017
When I started the London Text Analytics meetup group some seven years ago, ‘text analytics’ was a term used by few, and understood by even fewer. Apart from a handful of enthusiasts and academics (who preferred the label of “natural language processing” anyway), the field was either overlooked or ignored by most people. Even the advent of “big data” – of which the vast majority was unstructured – did little to change perceptions.
But now, in these days of chatbot-fuelled AI mania, it seems everyone wants to be part of the action. The commercialisation and democratisation of hitherto academic subjects such as AI and machine learning have highlighted a need for practical skills that focus explicitly on the management of unstructured data. Career opportunities have inevitably followed, with job adverts now calling directly for skills in natural language processing and text mining. So the publication of Tom Reamy’s book “Deep Text: Using Text Analytics to Conquer Information Overload, Get Real Value from Social Media, and Add Bigger Text to Big Data” is indeed well timed.
By Steven Zimmerman on April 22, 2017
The tradition of closing out ECIR with industry day continued for its 11th year in Aberdeen, Scotland. This year’s event was co-organized and moderated by Udo Kruschwitz and Tony Russell-Rose. For those who made the trip up north, a potpourri of exciting applications of academic research in IR and NLP was presented, including event detection and analytics at major news media outlets to methods of retrieval and identification of non-factual news. A “Fishbowl” discussion, including ways to run future industry day sessions, provided the official end to ECIR…with the unofficial end happening in the wee hours over Scottish Whisky.
By Andy Macfarlane on April 20, 2017
One Day Events
Search Solutions 2017. The annual practioner focused event for the IRSG held at the BCS offices in Covent Garden, together with a tutorial day on 28 November 2017, with the main event on 29th November 2017.
Healthcare’17: 2017 International Conference on Healthcare Science and Engineering. Of interest to members working in the area of health and search. 1-3 June 2017, Zhengzhou, China.
By Udo Kruschwitz on February 10, 2017
Welcome and Happy New Year! “We had a great 2016. 2017 will prove to be even better” as an anonymous letter writer assures me … although he/she/it also assures me that the European Union is doomed and that I should respect the democratic will of the British people. What better way to start the year than with a few friendly words?
Continue reading “Editorial”
By Frank Hopfgartner on February 10, 2017
Local conferences, such as TREC in North America, CLEF in Europe, and NTCIR in Asia, play a leading role in promoting information retrieval research by supporting novel campaigns and releasing datasets to share the latest research challenges. To gain access to these datasets, participants are requested to communicate their work in the form of working notes. Despite the overall success of these conferences, the main drawback is that these working notes are not peer-reviewed. This may pose problems, especially for researchers who cannot easily afford or justify travel expenses to attend such conferences. To overcome the problem of distance, we organised an experimental satellite session that allowed participants of the Asia-based evaluation campaign NTCIR to present their work either in Europe or in Asia. Given participants’ feedback, we see this as an attractive method to foster research and innovation beyond continental borders.
By Tony Russell-Rose on February 10, 2017
Unless you’ve been on another planet for the last year or so, you‘ll almost certainly have noticed that chatbots (and conversational agents in general) became quite popular during the course of 2016. It seems that every day a new start up or bot framework was launched, no doubt fuelled at least in part by a growth in the application of data science to language data, combined with a growing awareness in machine learning and AI techniques more generally. So it’s not surprising that we now see on a daily basis all manner of commentary on various aspects of chatbots, from marketing to design, development, commercialisation, etc.
But one topic that doesn’t seem to have received quite as much attention is that of evaluation. It seems that in our collective haste to join the chatbot party, we risk overlooking a key question: how do we know when the efforts we have invested in design and development have actually succeeded? What kind of metrics should be applied, and what constitutes success for a chatbot anyway?
By Jose Alberto Equivel on February 10, 2017
This past November 30th 2016, the British Computer Society hosted the Search Solutions forum at its London Offices.
It was divided into 5 sessions with the following themes: 1. Understanding users and context, 2. Moving towards question-answering, 3. Beyond web search, 4. New modes of search, and 5. Panel session. Particularly interesting, was the panel session, in which attendees and participants alike had a discussion on the possible reasons talent in Information Retrieval (IR) was so hard to find and not matching the industry’s demand. This article will attempt to summarize each of the 4 sessions preceding the panel; using issues and solutions that arose during the panel as a framework to structure the summary. First, I will attempt to summarise and list the panel’s main talking points. Afterwards I will map the talks given at the forum to these points, and will conclude with a personal take on these issues.
The panel session’s discussion was taken over by the unmet IR talent demand in the industry, observed (by some if not all of the attendees). This problem was also described as a lack of interest in IR areas by working technology professionals and students. After describing the problem this way, the discussion yielded the following possible causes: