On the 18th and 19th of June Cristina attended a course titled “Advances in Information Retrieval” organized by the Netherlands Research School for Information and Knowledge Systems (SIKS) in Vught, The Netherlands.
During the first day of the course, Theo van der Weide, professor at Radboud University Nijmegen, presented some basic approaches to Information Retrieval (IR), discussed about IR classic models (boolean, vector, probabilistic) and some computational aspects of these. He ended with implications of Big Data and with examples on how numerical stability while operating on large datasets is important. Next, Evangelos Kanoulas, assistant professor in computer science at University of Amsterdam, gave a presentation about search engine evaluation, focusing on two strategies of evaluation of search engines: one based on offline collected data and the other on online in-situ evaluation methods. He also described how to build and use a benchmark collection to evaluate the quality of a search algorithm and also other evaluation techniques like A/B testing and interleaving.
In the second day of the course, Suzan Verberne, a professor at University Nijmegen, and researcher in the fields of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Information Retrieval (IR) gave a presentation about ways to model user behaviour and how to use these models for simulating user interaction such that this can be used to evaluate IR methods.
Finally, Djoerd Hiemstra, associate professor at the University of Twente, presented basic techniques for indexing very large document collections like inverted files, index compression, top-k query optimization techniques. On a practical side, attendees had to estimate indexing and processing times for these techniques. In the end, students were able to have not only a better understanding of the scale of the web, but also on how to build a large-scale web search engine. It was a crash-course on how to build a small scale Google in one afternoon.
Cristina would like to thank Lora Aroyo and the VU University Amsterdam for making it possible to attend this course.