SIGIR 2014 Plenaries

ACM-W Athena Award Lecture: Putting Searchers into Search

Over the last two decades the information retrieval landscape has changed dramatically. Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 3k web sites and the earliest web search engines indexed approximately 50k pages. Today, search engines index billions of web pages, images, videos, news, music, social media, books, etc., and have become the main entry point for a wide range of information, services, communications and entertainment. Despite these tremendous accomplishments, we still have a long way to go. Many searches are unsuccessful, and even those that succeed are often harder than they should be. To address these challenges we need to extend our evaluation methods to handle the diversity of searchers, tasks, and interactivity that characterize information systems today. I will discuss recent work on user modeling and temporal dynamics of information systems to illustrate the power of utilizing converging lines of evidence from laboratory, panel, and large-scale log techniques to understand and support searchers.

Susan Dumais is a Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft and Deputy Managing Director of the Microsoft Research Lab in Redmond. Prior to joining Microsoft Research, she was at Bell Labs and Bellcore, where she worked on Latent Semantic Analysis, techniques for combining search and navigation, and organizational impacts of new technology. Her current research focuses on user modeling and personalization, context and search, and temporal dynamics of information. She has worked closely with several Microsoft groups (Bing, Windows Desktop Search, SharePoint, and Office Online Help) on search-related innovations. Susan has published widely in the fields of information science, human-computer interaction and cognitive science, and holds several patents on novel retrieval algorithms and interfaces. Susan is also an adjunct professor in the Information School at the University of Washington. She is Past-Chair of ACM's Special Interest Group in Information Retrieval (SIGIR), and serves on several editorial boards, technical program committees, and government panels. She was elected to the CHI Academy in 2005, an ACM Fellow in 2006, received the SIGIR Gerard Salton Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2009, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2011.

Seeking Simplicity in Search User Interfaces

It is rare for a new user interface to break through and become successful, especially in information-intensive tasks like search, coming to consensus or building up knowledge. Most complex interfaces end up going unused. Often the successful solution lies in a previously unexplored part of the interface design space that is simple in a new way that works just right.

In this talk I will give examples of such successes in the information-intensive interface design space, and attempt to provide stimulating ideas for future research directions.

Dr. Marti Hearst is a professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley, with an affiliate appointment in the Computer Science Division. Her primary research interests are user interfaces for search engines, information visualization, natural language processing and, more recently, improving MOOCs. She was recently named a Fellow of the ACM, and has won two departmental Excellence in Teaching Awards. She is also known for the book Search User Interfaces and for the Flamenco project which advanced faceted navigation as a standard search technique, for lexico-syntactic patterns for ontology discovery (“Hearst patterns”), the TextTiling discourse segmentation technique, and the TileBars query term visualization technique.

She received her BA, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley, and she was a Member of the Research Staff at Xerox PARC from 1994 to 1997. Prof. Hearst has served on the Advisory Council of NSF's CISE Directorate and is on the Web Board for CACM, is a member of the Usage Panel for the American Heritage Dictionary and is on the panel of experts. Prof. Hearst is on the editorial board of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction and was formerly on the boards of ACM Transactions on the Web, Computational Linguistics, ACM Transactions on Information Systems, and IEEE Intelligent Systems. Prof. Hearst has received an NSF CAREER award, an IBM Faculty Award, a Google Research Award, and an Okawa Foundation Research Grant.

The data revolution: how companies are transforming with big data

Spelling correction in the 1990s was all about algorithms and small dictionaries. This century, it's about mining vast data sets of past user behaviors, simple algorithms, and using those to correct mistakes. The large Internet giants are data-driven enterprises that use data to transform and continually improve user experiences. In this talk, Hugh Williams shares stories about data and how it's used to build Internet products, and explains why he believes data will transform businesses as we know them. Every major company is becoming a data-driven company, and Hugh shares examples of transformations occurring in health, aviation, farming, and telecommunications. He recently joined Pivotal, a company that is assembling the toolkit that exists in only a few consumer Internet companies, and making that toolkit open and available to every industry, including big data platforms, development frameworks, and an open, cloud-independent Platform-as-a-Service. He will conclude by sharing details about Pivotal, the Pivotal vision, and roadmap.

Hugh E. Williams has been Senior Vice President of Research & Development at Pivotal since January 2014. His teams build big data technologies, and development frameworks and services, including Pivotal's Hadoop, Spring Java framework, and Greenplum database offerings. Most recently, he spent four and a half years as an executive with eBay where he was responsible for the team that conceived, designed, and built eBay's user experiences, search engine, big data technologies and platforms. Prior to joining eBay, he managed an R&D team at Microsoft's Bing for four and a half years, spent over ten years researching and developing search technologies, and ran his own startup and consultancy for several years. He has published over 100 works, mostly in the field of Information Retrieval, including two books for O'Reilly Media Inc. He holds 19 U.S. patents, with many more pending. He has a PhD from RMIT University in Australia.