Thursday, July 12, 2012

Search Industry Track at SIGIR 2012

Although the entirety of the ACM SIGIR 2012 conference, from tutorials to cutting-edge research, will be of interest to those concerned with search systems and algorithms, the Industry Track on the Wednesday (August 15) of the conference will likely be of most interest to those in “tech” industry. In the Industry Track, a series of speakers from all of the major search vendors, most of whom are also sponsors of the conference, will present on their latest works. More information on this track is available, as is information on the conference itself from a local perspective.

The opening speaker of the Industry Track will be Eric Brown of IBM Research, who will present an overview of IBM’s Watson and the DeepQA technology upon which it is built, and explore future applications of this technology. Another speaker will be Andrei Broder of Google, who will discuss the growing field of “computational advertising,” i.e., how algorithms use the context of the user and his or her search terms to display the most appropriate “sponsored” pages. Also speaking will be Daniel Rose of, a subsidiary of, who will discuss the democratization in their new CloudSearch service.

Among the other speakers will be search industry veteran, Sue Dumais of Microsoft, who famously said in 2007 that if search was still using user-entered text boxes in ten years that she should be fired from her job. She will describe the twin problems of putting user context into search as well as putting search into the user’s context. (We are halfway there in 2012 and still using search boxes; maybe someone will ask if she worries for her job!)

Other Industry Track speakers will include John O’Neil of Attivio (Entity Sentiment Extraction Using Text Ranking), Ilya Segalovich of Yandex (Making Web Search More User-Centric: the State of Play and the Way Ahead), and Azarias Reda and colleagues at LinkedIn (Related Searches at LinkedIn).

The track will wrap up with the 2012 Industry Panel consisting of four distinguished panelists who will be asked to represent the likely viewpoint of a particular group or “vertical” while responding to a series of questions notified in advance.  Trystan Upstill of the Search Quality Team at Google will represent “large scale web search”; Jerome Pesenti, Chief Scientist at Vivisimo / IBM, will represent “enterprise search”; Krishna Gade, Engineering Manager at Twitter will represent “real-time and social search.” Stephen Robertson, Emeritus Professor at City University, London and Microsoft Research will represent “academic research” and Diane Kelly, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and author of an influential monograph on user-involved evaluation, will take the all-important perspective of “users.”  The audience, too, will have their say!

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