Follow Bruce Croft (@wbc11) on Twitter to get descriptions of our new IR papers.

The IR Lab gathered on November 4, 2016 for a research talk by Damiano Spina, a Research Fellow in the School of Science at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia. Dr. Spina is spending two weeks in the CIIR to collaborate with Distinguished Professor Bruce Croft and other researchers within the lab.

The CIIR paper, "A Deep Relevance Matching Model for Ad-hoc Retrieval," was one of the three top "liked" papers of the first day of CIKM 2016, as identified by social media. The paper was co-authored by Jiafeng Guo, Yixing Fan, Qingyao Ai, and W. Bruce Croft.

CIIR undergrad Tanaya Asnani launched a new iOS application called Swpr. that is intended to connect students with extra meal swipes on their UMass Amherst campus dining commons meal card with students in need of a meal.

Asnani, a CICS major and CIIR research undergraduate, and co-developer Brian Ramirez, launched the iOS app on September 12, 2016. Full story on the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

A number of the CIIR's alumni (former students, visitors, and post-docs) and current students gathered for a mini-reunion while they were attending SIGIR 2016 in Pisa, Italy in July. The CIIR dinner was organized by current students Myung-ha Jang and Shiri Dori-Hacohen.

Pictured above (left to right): Sam Huston, Jin Young Kim, Grace Yang, Jiafeng Guo, Shiri Dori-Hacohen, Qingyao Ai, Ben Carterette, Jeff Dalton, Jeremy Pickens, Laura Dietz, Mark Smucker, Fernando Diaz, Mark Sanderson, Elif Aktolga, Myung-ha Jang, Matt Lease, and Daniel Cohen.

CIIR co-directors Bruce Croft, dean of the College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS), and James Allan, chair of the CICS faculty, were recently honored with six of their papers chosen for ACM SIGIR Test of Time Awards.

The ACM SIGIR Test of Time Award, established in 2014, "recognizes research that has had long-lasting influence, including impact on a subarea of information retrieval research, across subareas of information retrieval research, and outside of the information retrieval research community (e.g. non-information retrieval research or industry)." In 2016, a ten-person committee selected pre-2002 papers to each receive a SIGIR Test of Time Award. The CIIR papers chosen for the award include:

2001   Relevance based Language Models V. Lavrenko & W. B. Croft
1998   A Language Modeling Approach to Information Retrieval J. M. Ponte & W. B. Croft
1998   On-line New Event Detection and Tracking J. Allan, R. Papka & V. Lavrenko
1996   Query Expansion using Local and Global Document Analysis J. Xu & W. B. Croft
1995   Searching Distributed Collections with Inference Networks J. Callan, Z. Lu & W. B. Croft
1990   Inference Networks for Document Retrieval H. Turtle & W. B. Croft


In addition, two CIIR papers were chosen for SIGIR Test of Time Award Honorable Mention (for papers 10-12 years before):

2003   Automatic image annotation and retrieval using cross-media relevance models (awarded at SIGIR 2015) J. Jeon, V. Lavrenko, and R. Manmatha
2002   Predicting query performance (awarded at SIGIR 2014) Steve Cronen-Townsend, Yun Zhou, and W. Bruce Croft

View the full list of SIGIR Test of Time Award recipients.

Japan's Hokkaido University (HU) and the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) have embarked on a new initiative, part of the Global Institution for Collaborative Research and Education (GI-CoRE), to foster collaborative research and education activities in the areas of big data and cybersecurity. The initiative builds on the longstanding relationship between the two institutions that goes back to the founding of Hokkaido University in 1876 by William Smith Clark, the third president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (later to become UMass Amherst).

Recognizing the economic and societal impact of the digital revolution, Hokkaido University created GI-CoRE as a vehicle to derive collaborations with a network of world-leading universities. GI-CoRE is funded by the Government of Japan and directed by the President of HU; it consists of six focal areas, called Global Stations, including Big Data and Cybersecurity (GSB) which was established in April 2016.

GSB's goals are to foster interdisciplinary research collaborations in the areas of big data and cybersecurity, to collaboratively develop curriculum and educational programs in these areas, and to facilitate joint academia-industry-government initiatives. Funding will support short- and long-term visits by computer science faculty and the hiring of graduate students and postdocs at HU to support these collaborations.

"We have a valued relationship with HU and look forward to expanding our partnerships with its world-class faculty," said Bruce Croft, distinguished professor, CICS dean, and CIIR director. "UMass Amherst will bring its unique expertise and leadership in cybersecurity and data science to engage with HU on problems of common, global interest."

A delegation from UMass Amherst - Bruce Croft, Professor James Allan (chair of the faculty and CIIR co-director), and Professor Shlomo Zilberstein (associate dean for research and engagement) - visited HU in May and participated in several events to mark the opening of GSB. Prof. Zilberstein delivered an invited talk during the opening ceremony entitled "Building Robust AI Systems" and Professor Allan spoke at the "Japan-US Academic Cooperation in Big Data and Cybersecurity" roundtable.

Professors John Staudenmayer and Erin Conlon of UMass Amherst's Department of Mathematics and Statistics are also engaged in the GI-CoRE GSB partnership.

Bruce Croft and James Allan are pictured above (far right) during their visit to Hokkaido University.

On May 6, a number of the CIIR's recent graduate alumni attended the UMass Amherst campus graduation ceremony and the CICS graduation celebration luncheon. Recent CIIR Ph.D. graduates gathered for a photo with their advisors. Shown left to right: Bruce Croft, Chia-Jung Lee, David Smith, Kriste Krstovski, James Allan, and Weize Kong. Two of the CIIR's students who received their M.S. degrees, John Foley and Manmeet Singh, also joined the CICS celebration. Recent alumni Ethem Can (Ph.D.) and Jiepu Jiang (M.S.) were not at the luncheon celebration.

CIIR doctoral student, Kriste Krstovski is a member of Aegis, a four student team that was named as one of three runner-up teams in this year's Harvard President's Challenge. Harvard President Drew Faust announced the winners and runners-up during the President's Challenge Demo Day on Monday, April 25, 2016. There were nearly 150 teams competing in this year's challenge that encourages students from across Harvard to come up with creative solutions to the world's most pressing problems

As a runner-up in the challenge, the Aegis team received $10,000. Their proposal was to build a platform that would allow users to report crime incidents and observe the crime landscape in a city. Krstovski (shown third from the right), who received his Ph.D. from UMass Amherst CICS in May 2016, is currently at Harvard University completing a Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics SAO Pre-Doctoral Fellowship.

CIIR doctoral student, Shiri Dori-Hacohen, came in first place at the final competition of the UMass Innovation Challenge, where the top entrepreneurship teams competed for up to $65k for their startups. Shiri spoke about commercializing research on Automated Controversy Detection (with advisor James Allan). The finals, conducted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst, were held on April 7, 2016. She won $35,000 in funding for the team's startup.

According to the UMass IC website, the UMass Innovation Challenge awards prizes each academic year through competitive events that are designed to help and reward UMass students and young alumni from any of the system’s five campuses who want to pursue a novel business idea and develop it into a marketable product.

The goal is for interdisciplinary teams to conceptualize a product with regard to its scientific and technological design, identify customers, and create a business plan for the product’s commercialization. Competition judges are entrepreneurs, legal experts, and consultants who also volunteer their time to mentor with students who are interested in marketing their new ideas.

More on Shiri and the start-up.

The textbook Search Engines: Information Retrieval in Practice by Croft, Metzler and Strohman now has over 5,000 downloads. The book is available for free download at It has been edited to correct the minor errors noted in the 5 years since the book's publication. The authors, meanwhile, are working on a second edition.

Doctoral students John Foley and Emma Strubell are the 2016 recipients of the College's Accomplishments in Search & Mining Awards, sponsored by Yahoo!.

Emma has been doing ground-breaking work in efficient machine learning for natural language processing that can be run at large scale. This includes 5x - 10x speedups in part-of-speech tagging, parsing and named entity recognition with minimal loss of accuracy. For this work Emma won an ACL 2015 Outstanding Paper award. She is now doing new work in deep learning for NLP with similar goals.

John received the award for contributions to IR research as well as support of the Galago search engine and its users. John's in-depth understanding of the Galago search engine has enabled him to be a valuable source of support in the IRlab. It has also allowed his research to touch on efficiency and data structures issues in ways that would otherwise be impossible.

View the list of previous recipients.

A team, advised by professor Andrew McCallum's Information Extraction and Synthesis Laboratory, produced the winning algorithm to take the top prize in an international competition sponsored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and U.S. Department of Commerce. They designed a computer algorithm that rapidly removes inventor ambiguity from patent records, which will provide users more efficient and effective searches. Their winning approach will be incorporated into the USPTO's new online platform, PatentsView. View full article.

The paper "Bayesian Inference for Information Retrieval Evaluation," authored by Ben Carterette (CIIR Ph.D. '08) received the Best Paper Award at the ACM SIGIR International Conference on the Theory of Information Retrieval (ICTIR 2015) held in September 2015.

The ACM SIGIR International Conference on the Theory of Information Retrieval was held on September 27 - 30, 2015 in Northampton, MA. James Allan and Bruce Croft were the ICTIR 2015 General Chairs.

Manish Gupta and Michael Bendersky (CIIR Ph.D. '12) co-authored Information Retrieval with Verbose Queries (Volume 9, Issue 3-4), part of the Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval book series published by now publishers.

The paper that appeared in SIGIR 2003, "Automatic Image Annotation and Retrieval using Cross-Media Relevance Models" by Jiwoon Jeon, Victor Lavrenko, and R. Manmatha, received an honorable mention for the test of time award at SIGIR 2015, Santiago, Chile. Also at SIGIR 2015, Bruce Croft gave a keynote talk, "Finding Answers in Passages", at the WebQA Workshop.

The textbook Search Engines: Information Retrieval in Practice by Croft, Metzler and Strohman is now available for free download at It has been edited to correct the minor errors noted in the 5 years since the book's publication. The authors, meanwhile, are working on a second edition.

On April 8, 2015, the UMass Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the College of Information and Computer Sciences with Bruce Croft being named interim dean. Upon Lori Clarke's retirement in June, James Allan took over as chair of the faculty.

Doctoral student Venkatesh N. Murthy is a member of team "DeepPap" that competed against four other teams in the final round of the UMass Innovation Challenge held on March 31, 2015. DeepPap aimed to provide a low-cost and portable, automated cervical cancer screening system for the ‘point-of-care’ leveraging cutting edge technology to help screen more women, more often, for cervical cancer using pap-smears. The team placed as runners up in the final round.

Doctoral students Chia-Jung Lee and Arvind Neelakantan are the 2014-2015 UMass Amherst School of Computer Science Accomplishments in Search & Mining Award recipients. Yahoo! has sponsored the Search & Mining Awards since 2009. View the list of previous recipients.

Distinguished Professor Bruce Croft was selected to receive a UMass Amherst Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity Award was presented during the Faculty Convocation on September 12, 2014.

At SIGIR 2014, a new Test of Time Award was introduced (recognizing the best papers from 2002 to 2004). The 2002 paper, "Predicting Query Performance," by Steve Cronen-Townsend, Yun Zhou, and W. Bruce Croft received Honourable Mention.

We are pleased to announce that Brendan O'Connor joined the CIIR when he arrived at the School of Computer Science in Fall 2014 as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. His research interests are in machine learning and natural language processing with a focus on computational social science to develop methods that address linguistic and political questions by analyzing large corpora of textual data.

Seven of the CIIR's IRLab students received Ph.D.s during the 2013-2014 academic year. See photo of IRLab Ph.D. graduates who gathered for the CS celebration and campus graduate program graduation ceremony.

Graduate students Jeff Dalton and Luke Vilnis are the 2014 recipients of the School's Accomplishments in Search & Mining Awards, sponsored by Yahoo!. View the list of previous recipients.

Distinguished Professor Bruce Croft is a recipient of 2014 IEEE Computer Society Technical Achievement Award for "for outstanding contributions to information retrieval and the development of search engines." The award was presented on June 4th. Read more.

During the CIKM 2013 conference held in San Francisco, CA, the CIIR/IRLab held a reunion on Tuesday, October 29, 2013. View the group photo from the gathering at Blue Line Pizza in Burlingame, CA.

UKeiG (U.K. eInformation Group), in association with the International Society for Knowledge Organisation UK and the British Computer Society Information Retrieval Specialist Group announced that Professor W Bruce Croft is the 2013 winner of the UKeiG Tony Kent Strix Award. The Award is given in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the field of information retrieval. More details.

During the Twelfth International Conference on Document Analysis and Recognition (ICDAR), graduate students David Wemhoener, Zeki Yalniz, and Research Professor R. Manmatha received the ICDAR 2013 Best Poster Paper Award for "Creating an Improved Version Using Noisy OCR from Multiple Editions." The conference was held in Washington, D.C. in August, 2013.

Graduate students David Belanger and Samuel Huston are this year's recipients of the Department's Accomplishments in Search & Mining Awards, sponsored by Yahoo!. View the list of previous recipients.

CIIR doctoral student Kriste Krstovski received a Harvard University, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, SAO Pre-Doctoral Fellowship. This fellowship, which started in February 2013, supports his dissertation work by applying it to NASA's Astrophysics Data System.

In September 2012, David A. Smith, former CS Research Assistant Professor and current Adjunct Asst. Professor working with the CIIR, joined Northeastern University's College of Computer and Information Science as an Assistant Professor.

Mark D. Smucker (Ph.D. '08), Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo, and co-author Charles L.A. Clarke, received the BEst Paper Award at the 35th Annual International Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR '12) for their paper “Time-Based Calibration of Effectiveness Measures.”

CIIR Director Bruce Croft and Mark Sanderson (former CIIR Post-Doc; now a Professor at RMIT University) contributed to the 100th Anniversary Issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE with their paper "The History of Information Retrieval Research."

More on the IEEE special issue.

Graduate students Henry Feild and Limin Yao are this year's recipients of the Department's Accomplishments in Search & Mining Awards, sponsored by Yahoo!. View the list of previous recipients.

We are pleased to announce that Assistant Professor Benjamin Marlin has joined the CIIR. Dr. Marlin joined the Computer Science Department tenure-track faculty in Fall 2011. His research lies at the intersection of artificial intelligence, machine learning and statistics with an emphasis on the development of probabilistic models and highly scalable approximate inference and learning methods. His applied research makes use of these techniques in number of areas including recommender systems and collaborative filtering, ranking, and medical informatics.

Marc-Allen Cartright, Henry A. Field and James Allan received the Best Paper Award at the BooksOnline 2011 Workshop (held during CIKM 2011) for their paper "Evidence Finding using a Collection of Books."

In late 2006, Eric Brown (UMass Amherst CS Ph.D. ’96) joined a dozen other researchers at IBM's Watson Research Center and, under the lead of principal investigator David Ferrucci, took on the Jeopardy! Grand Challenge, where the goal is to build a QA system, named Watson, that can play the popular television quiz show Jeopardy! and beat a human champion. In a CS newsletter article, Dr. Brown describes the project. To showcase their results, Watson will compete against Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The matches will air on February 14, 15, and 16, 2011.

Assistant Professor Hanna Wallach (along with co-authors Ryan Prescott Adams and Zoubin Ghahramani) won the Best Paper Award at AISTATS 2010 (the Thirteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics) for the paper "Learning the Structure of Deep Sparse Graphical Models."

We are pleased to announce that Assistant Professor Hanna Wallach and her students Meagan Day and Rachel Shorey are now part of the CIIR. Dr. Wallach joined the Computer Science Department in Fall 2010 as part of UMass Amherst's interdisciplinary research cluster in computational social science. Her primary research goal is to develop new mathematical models and computational tools for analyzing vast quantities of structured and unstructured data in order to identify and answer social science questions.

Professor James Allan was named to a 3-year term as Chair of SIGIR (the ACM Special Interest Group in Information Retrieval). ACM SIGIR addresses issues ranging from theory to user demands in the application of computers to the acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval, and distribution of information.

CIIR alum Fernando Diaz (Ph.D. '04), former CIIR Research Professor and UMass Amherst CS alum Jamie Callan (Ph.D. '93), and co-authors Jaime Arguello (CMU) and Jean-Francois Crespo (Yahoo! Labs Montreal), received the Best Paper Award at the 32nd Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR '09) for their paper "Sources of Evidence for Vertical Selection." Fernando is currently a Research Scientist at Yahoo! Labs Montreal and Jamie is a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

Ben Carterette (Ph.D. '08), Assistant Professor of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Delaware, won the Best Paper Award at the 2nd International Conference on the Theory of Information Retrieval for his paper "An Analysis of NP-Completeness in Novelty and Diversity Ranking." The conference was held at Microsoft Research, Cambridge, U.K., in September 2009. The award was sponsored by Yahoo! Research.

Distinguished Professor Bruce Croft gave a keynote speech at ECIR 2009 in Toulouse, France entitled "Query Evolution."

The CIIR/IRLab held a reunion during the SIGIR 2009 conference held in Boston, MA on Wednesday, July 22, 2009. In addition to gathering together old friends, we celebrated Bruce Croft's 30th year at UMass Amherst and James Allan's 15th year. View group photo from the event.

A new textbook, Search Engines: Information Retrieval in Practice, written by W. Bruce Croft, Donald Metzler, and Trevor Strohman was published in 2009 by Addison-Wesley. A full draft is available for review online. Metzler and Strohman are CIIR alums. Metzler (Ph.D. '07) is currently at Yahoo! Research and Strohman (Ph.D. '08) is at Google.

Distinguished Professor Bruce Croft gave a keynote address entitled “Unsolved Problems in Search” at the 2008 ACM Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM) in October. In addition, Croft gave a speech, “Longer Queries, Better Answers?,” as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series at the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley Campus in June.

David Smith, a Ph.D. candidate from Johns Hopkins University, joined the CIIR as a Research Assistant Professor in September. Smith brings his experience in the areas of natural language processing and machine translation to the CIIR.

CIIR alumnus Jeremy Pickens (Ph.D. '04) and co-authors Gene Golovchinsky, Chirag Shah (CIIR alum; MS '06), Pernilla Qvarfordt, and Maribeth Back received the Best Paper Award at the 31st Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR '08) for their paper "Algorithmic Mediation for Collaborative Exploratory Search." Jeremy is a Research Scientist at FX Palo Alto Labs and Chirag is a Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The 31st International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR '08) featured 8 papers and 2 posters from the CIIR. SIGIR 2008 received 496 submissions and accepted 85 papers (a 17% acceptance rate). CIIR attendees at SIGIR '08 included Bruce Croft, James Allan, Michael Bendersky, Ben Carterette, Greg Druck, Giridhar Kumaran, Kyung Soon Lee (CIIR Visiting Researcher, '07-'08), Jangwon Seo, Mark Smucker, and Xiaobing Xue.

James Allan, UMass Amherst CS Professor and CIIR co-director, and Northeastern University's Jay Aslam are the General co-Chairs of SIGIR '09 conference held in Boston, Massachusetts in July 2009. See for details.

Microsoft announced that CIIR graduate student Ben Carterette was selected for a Microsoft Live Labs Fellowship. In the 2007-2008 competition, Microsoft chose only four Live Labs fellows and 12 Microsoft Research fellows.