Welcome back! This spring 2013 edition of Informer will bring you a range of fairly different articles, perhaps just the right mix for this time of the year. More about the articles later, let us first have a glimpse at what has been going on in the IR community.
By Tyler Tate on April 23, 2013
Browsing the Web. Surfing the Net. Navigating a Web site. Traversing a hierarchy. Going back. Scrolling up and down. Returning home. We’ve seen such metaphors throughout our history of using computers to interact with information. Haphazard though they may seem be, these metaphors highlight a universal reality of human psychology: we perceive the world—both physical and digital—in spatialterms. As George A. Miller  observed in 1968:
“Mankind evolved in a world of space and time. Our memories evolved to record events that transpire in space and time. Modern attempts to externalise and enlarge that memory should not, and probably need not, neglect its spatiotemporal dimensions.”
By Cathal Gurrin on April 23, 2013
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 Cathal know (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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. For examples of previous book reviews, see the most recent issues of Informer. The currently available books (courtesy of our good friends at Springer) are:
By Tony Russell-Rose on April 23, 2013
Faceted search offers tremendous potential for transforming the search experience. It provides a flexible framework by which users can satisfy a wide variety of information needs, ranging from simple fact retrieval to complex exploratory search and discovery scenarios. But there is one design aspect of faceted search that is particuarly hard to get right: the interactive behaviour of the facets themselves, i.e. how they should respond and update when selected. Surprisingly, the design choices at this level of detail can make a remarkable difference to the overall user experience: the wrong ones can make an application feel disjointed and obstructive, and increase the likelihood of returning zero results. In this post, we’ll examine the key design options and provide some recommendations.
By John Tait on April 23, 2013
Semantics is a term often used in the search technology and information retrieval community these days. A distinction is drawn between semantic and traditional search, implying that somehow semantic search is a more advanced or sophisticated form.
My claim in this article is that there are actually two forms of semantic search: emergent and extrinsic. Further I want to claim that they are related, and that one of them (emergent) is not new but has been in widespread use since the 1980’s when “natural language querying” (as embodied in Google for example) started to supplant pure Boolean querying as the usual query form for search on unstructured data.
By Nandita Tripathi on April 22, 2013
“Big Data” is one of the latest buzzwords in the IT industry nowadays. Companies are building up huge stores of data running into terabytes and more. Data hierarchies are getting bigger and bigger and more complex. At the same time, search/categorization speeds are also expected to increase. Single classifiers are now unable to deal with this huge data in real time. Today’s vast data repositories such as the web also contain many broad domains of data which are quite distinct from each other e.g. medicine, education, sports and politics. Each domain constitutes a subspace of the data within which the documents are similar to each other but quite distinct from the documents in another subspace. The data within these domains is frequently further divided into many subcategories as shown in Fig. 1 below.
By Norbert Fuhr on April 21, 2013
(This article was co-authored with Sascha Kriewel, University of Duisburg-Essen.)
The Information Retrieval group at the University of Duisburg-Essen is part of the Computer Science and Applied Cognitive Science Department in the Faculty of Engineering Sciences at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The department provides degree programmes in Applied Computer Science as well as in Applied Cognitive and Media Science, both at the bachelor and master level. Besides 11 computer science professors, there are also four professors of psychology, who are mainly teaching in the second program. This unique composition also leads to a user-oriented focus in the computer science programme.
Applied research at the Competence Center Information Retrieval and Machine Learning of DAI Laboratory, TU Berlin
By Frank Hopfgartner on April 16, 2013
The Distributed Artificial Intelligence (DAI) Laboratory at Technische Universität Berlin, headed by Prof. Dr. Sahin Albayrak, works on providing solutions for a new generation of systems and services to support our everyday life, coined as “smart services and smart systems”. The institute currently employs over 100 researchers, post-docs, graduate students, and support staff. The main objective of the lab is to provide a bridge between Academia and Industry, which has led to strong ties with leading multinational companies, research institutes and various SMEs (Berlin is home to a large share of Europe’s ICT start-ups).
By David Elsweiler on April 13, 2013
These are heady times for the German IR community. Norbert Fuhr’s recent winning of the Salton Prize not only rewarded a fantastic and long-term individual contribution to the field, but has also served to shed light on the whole IR scene in Germany – a fact underlined by this “Made in Germany” series.
There are several highly active IR research groups in Germany. These focus on diverse aspects of Information Retrieval, including linguistic and systems aspects, user modelling, human behaviour in IR and user interfaces. In this article I will describe some of the IR related research activities at the University of Regensburg, which incorporate many of these aspects.
By Andy Macfarlane on April 11, 2013
Edited By Andy MacFarlane
WIMS’13: International Conference on Web Intelligence, Mining and Semantics. Of interest to members working in the area web search, information extract etc. Madrid, Spain, 12-14 June 2013. http://aida.ii.uam.es/wims13/
NAACL-HLT 2013: 14th Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Of interest to members working in NLP and IR. Atlanta, GA, USA, 9-14 June 2013. http://naacl.org/