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Established in September 1992, the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR) celebrated its 30th anniversary this Fall.

Congratulations to CIIR alums Michael Bendersky, Chirag Shah, Matt Lease, and CICS professor Gerome Miklau for being named to the 2022 class of ACM Distinguished Members. According to ACM, "the ACM Distinguished Member program recognizes up to 10 percent of ACM worldwide membership based on professional experience and significant achievements in the computing field. To be nominated, a candidate must have at least 15 years of professional experience in the computing field, five years of professional ACM membership in the last 10 years, and must have achieved a significant level of accomplishment or made a significant impact in the field of computing. A Distinguished Member is expected to have served as a mentor and role model by guiding technical career development and contributing to the field beyond the norm."

At the 45th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR 2022), CIIR researchers Bruce Croft, Hamed Zamani, and Hansi Zeng received awards for papers that they co-authored.

The SIGIR 2022 Best Short Paper Award was presented to Hansi Zeng (CIIR doctoral student), Hamed Zamani (CIIR Associate Director and CICS Assistant Professor), and Vishwa Vinay (Adobe Research India) for their paper "Curriculum Learning for Dense Retrieval Distillation."

The SIGIR 2022 Best Paper Award was presented to Valeriia Bolotova (RMIT), Vladislav Blinov (Ural Federal University), Falk Scholer (RMIT), Bruce Croft (CIIR former Director and Distinguished Professor Emeritus), and Mark Sanderson (RMIT; former CIIR researcher) for "A non-factoid question answering taxonomy."

While attending SIGIR 2022, CIIR current and former researchers gathered for a photo. Left to right: Fernando Diaz, Jamie Callan, Mark Sanderson, Shiri Dori-Hacohen, Hamed Zamani, Helia Hashemi, Negin Rahimi, Christos Samarinas, Youngwoo Kim, and Jeff Dalton.

Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) Assistant Professor Hamed Zamani received a CAREER Award of $570,863 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his project, Enriching Conversational Information Retrieval via Mixed-Initiative Interactions.

Zamani’s research focuses on designing and evaluating statistical and machine learning models with applications to (interactive) information access systems, including search engines, recommender systems, and question answering. He is currently focusing on neural information retrieval and conversational search.

Zamani’s CAREER project addresses a key aspect of the future of search technology by providing access to information through natural language conversations. It aims to advance the state-of-the-art in conversational search by envisioning solutions that consider mixed-initiative interactions by studying (1) theoretical foundations for measuring mixed-initiative conversations; (2) models for clarifying the user's information needs; and (3) models for proactive informational contributions to ongoing conversations.

“This project addresses crucial problems in spoken conversational systems that can be widely used by millions of visually impaired users and everyone else who is visually occupied, such as car drivers,” explains Zamani. “In addition, since dialogue is the most natural form of human communication for exchanging knowledge, advances in conversational information retrieval have broad applications for children, especially for education purposes.”

Assistant Professor Hamed Zamani is the Associate Director of the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR). He joined CICS in September 2020. Prior to UMass Amherst, he was a Researcher at Microsoft, working on a wide range of problems related to search engines. He received his Ph.D. in 2019 from UMass Amherst and was a recipient of the UMass Amherst CICS Outstanding Dissertation Award for his Ph.D. thesis on weakly supervised neural information retrieval.

According to NSF, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the NSF's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences Research Assistant Professor Razieh (Negin) Rahimi was selected for a 2022 Google Research Scholar Award for her work on generative rankers toward trustworthy search result diversification. She received $60,000 from Google to support the advancement of her research.

“In this research, we tackle the challenge of explaining search results such that explanations are faithful to how the underlying ranker works and are also in a format that helps end-users understand the information space related to their queries,” explains Rahimi. “The goal is to develop new state-of-the-art models for information retrieval that jointly rank and explain the entire lists provided to users."

Affiliated with the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval, Rahimi’s research is in the field of information retrieval, text mining, and content analysis. She focuses on designing, developing, and evaluating models for a diverse range of tasks and applications related to information retrieval.

Google’s Research Scholar Program “provides unrestricted gifts to support research at institutions around the world, and is focused on funding world-class research conducted by early-career professors.” Rahimi was selected by Google under their machine learning and data mining research field for this award.

Julian Killingback was selected as a Fellow candidate for the 2022 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Killingback, a UMass Amherst Manning CICS master's degree student who will join the CIIR as a doctoral student, is working on his MS thesis with CIIR Associate Director Hamed Zamani. This prestigious fellowship program provides students with three years of funding over a five-year fellowship period.

It is with sadness that we announce that Dr. Dirk Mahling passed away on March 18, 2022 at the age of 61 following a battle with sarcoma. Dr. Mahling received his UMass Amherst Computer Science PhD in 1990 (advised by Distinguished Professor Emeritus Bruce Croft). He went on to a successful career in both academia and industry. More on his life and career.

Dr. Mahling leaves behind his wife Sabine and sons Gerrit and Hendrik (wife Sidney). A celebration of life ceremony was held on May 18th in Maine. In lieu of flowers, Dr. Mahling’s family asks that you consider donating to the American Sarcoma Foundation (

CIIR Associate Director and Assistant Professor Hamed Zamani was selected to present keynote addresses at two workshops held during the 15th ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Minig (WSDM'22). At the ACM WSDM'22 Workshop on Personalization and Recommendations in Search (PaRiS), Prof. Zamani presented a keynote, "Joint Modeling of Search and Recommendation." Another keynote talk, "Recent Advancements and Current Challenges in Neural Information Retrieval," was given by Prof. Zamani at PLM4IR: The WSDM 2022 Workshop on pre-trained Language Model for Information Retrieval.

CIIR doctoral student Sheikh Muhammad Sarwar received a UMass Amherst Graduate School Spring 2022 Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

According to the Graduate School, this new fellowship was designed to help students complete their dissertation after Covid-related disruptions. Recipients will receive a stipend to focus on completing their dissertation in order to graduate in 2022.

CIIR doctoral student Hamed Bonab was selected to receive a Spring 2022 Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences Dissertation Writing Fellowship.

Bonab, who was admitted to doctoral candidacy with distinction and defended his proposal, "Neural Approaches for Language-Agnostic Search and Recommendation," in July 2021, is advised by CIIR Director, Professor, and Chair of the Faculty James Allan.

According to the College, students who are nearing completion of their dissertation writing are nominated for the fellowship based on the strength of their dissertations and its significance to computing theory and practice. Fellowship recipients receive a stipend to focus on their writing as they near their dissertation defense and graduation dates.

More on the Fellowship at

CIIR doctoral student Helia Hashemi received a 2021-2022 Bloomberg Data Science PhD Fellowship. Hashemi, advised by Distinguished Professor Emeritus Bruce Croft, is one of nine Fellows selected by Bloomberg this year. Her research interests are in the areas of information retrieval (IR), machine learning, and natural language processing, with a recent focus on conversational information seeking and neural representation learning for IR.

CIIR/Manning CICS Phd ('07) alum Donald Metzler was named a 2021 Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for outstanding contributions to the field.

While a doctoral student in the CIIR, Don received the Best Student Paper Award at SIGIR 2005 for his and co-author Bruce Croft's influential research that resulted in the paper, "A Markov random field model for term dependencies." Dr. Metzler later co-authored a textbook, Search Engines - Information Retrieval in Practice, with Croft and another CIIR Phd alum, Trevor Strohman. He is currently a Senior Staff Software Engineer at Google.

According to ACM, "the ACM Distinguished Member program recognizes up to 10 percent of ACM worldwide membership based on professional experience and significant achievements in the computing field. To be nominated, a candidate must have at least 15 years of professional experience in the computing field, five years of professional ACM membership in the last 10 years, and have achieved a significant level of accomplishment, or made a significant impact in the field of computing, computer science or information technology. A Distinguished Member is expected to have served as a mentor and role model by guiding technical career development and contributing to the field beyond the norm."

The paper, "AutoTriggER:Named Entity Recognition with Auxiliary Trigger Extraction," by CIIR doctoral student Sheikh M. Sarwar, CIIR Director James Allan, and co-authors won the Best Paper Award at the TrustNLP Workshop, held in June 2021 during the Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL 2021).

A team of UMass CICS / CIIR researchers was among 10 teams selected to compete in this year’s prestigious Alexa Prize TaskBot Challenge. According to Amazon, the year-long competition is “the first conversational AI challenge to incorporate multimodal (voice and vision) customer experiences.” The CIIR team has received $250,000 of funding from Amazon for their participation.

Selected from over 125 universities worldwide, the CIIR team is led by Hamed Zamani, CICS Assistant Professor and CIIR Associate Director as the Faculty Advisor and principle investigator (PI) of the team. In addition to Zamani’s students, the CIIR team also consists of students who are advised by Bruce Croft, CICS Distinguished Professor Emeritus and CIIR Former Director, and Mohit Iyyer, CICS Assistant Professor. CIIR doctoral student Helia Hashemi, advised by Croft, will lead the students’ effort of CIIR participation in this competition.

The other selected universities for this year’s Alexa Prize Challenge include Carnegie Mellon University, National Taiwan University (NTU), NOVA School of Science and Technology (Portugal), Ohio State University, Texas A&M University, University College London, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Glasgow (with CIIR PhD alum Dr. Jeff Dalton as the team’s faculty advisor), and the University of Pennsylvania. The winning team will receive a $500,000 prize.

The UMass CICS/CIIR team’s focus will be on the IR and NLP aspects of the challenge on cooking and do-it-yourself (DIY) domains. Their work consists of an information need understanding pipeline for identifying the correct cooking recipe or DIY guideline, and a pipeline for walking the user through the steps in the selected guideline until the task is successfully finished.

During the competition, the researchers will work to develop an interactive retrieval model that can handle various types of complex queries; to design a novel multimodal result presentation model that highlights the unique characteristics of each retrieved item to ease the decision making process for the user, and to train models that can make mixed initiative interactions with the users to make sure they are smoothly doing the task.

“We are excited to take on this TaskBot Challenge”, said Zamani, “As a world-leading research group on conversational search, we have recently developed models for mixed-initiative conversational search and invested on pushing the boundaries in multi-modal conversational search systems. This challenge is a unique opportunity for us to expand our development and evaluate our systems within the Alexa platform by interacting with real users.”

CIIR authors will have ten papers presented during the 44th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR 2021) being held virtually in July. CICS Assistant Professor and CIIR Associate Director Hamed Zamani is a co-author on six of the ten papers selected for presentation at the conference. The CIIR papers to be presented at SIGIR 2021 are listed below:

"Allowing for The Grounded Use of Temporal Difference Learning in Large Ranking Models via Sub State Updates"
Daniel Cohen

"AutoName: A Corpus-Based Set Naming Framework"
Zhiqi Huang, Razieh Rahimi, Puxuan Yu, Jingbo Shang, James Allan

"Current Challenges and Future Directions in Podcast Information Access"
Rosie Jones*, Hamed Zamani*, Markus Schedl, Ching-Wei Chen, Sravana Reddy, Ann Clifton, Jussi Karlgren, Helia Hashemi, Aasish Pappu, Zahra Nazari, Longqi Yang, Oguz Semerci, Hugues Bouchard, Ben Carterette (CIIR Phd alum)

"Improving Transformer-Kernel Ranking Model Using Conformer and Query Term Independence"
Bhaskar Mitra, Sebastian Hofstätter, Hamed Zamani, Nick Craswell

"Intra-Document Cascading: Learning to Select Passages for Neural Document Ranking"
Sebastian Hofstätter, Bhaskar Mitra, Hamed Zamani, Nick Craswell, Allan Hanbury

"Learning a Fine-Grained Review-based Transformer Model for Personalized Product Search"
Keping Bi, Qingyao Ai (CIIR Phd alum), W. Bruce Croft

"Learning Robust Dense Retrieval Models from Incomplete Relevance Labels"
Prafull Prakash, Julian Killingback, Hamed Zamani

"Passage Retrieval for Outside-Knowledge Visual Question Answering"
Chen Qu, Hamed Zamani, Liu Yang (CIIR Phd alum), W. Bruce Croft, Erik Learned-Miller

"Towards Multi-Modal Conversational Information Seeking"
Yashar Deldjoo, Johanne R. Trippas, Hamed Zamani

"Utility of Missing Concepts in Query Biased Summarization"
Sheikh Muhammad Sarwar, Felipe Moraes, Jiepu Jiang, James Allan

Papers sorted in alphabetical order. Bold author names represent UMass Amherst CICS/CIIR affiliates.
* Equal contribution.

CIIR/CICS Phd (2019) alum Qingyao Ai is a recipient of a Google 2021 Research Scholar Program Award. He is one of 77 awardees in the inaugural year of the program. Qingyao, Assistant Professor in the School of Computing at the University of Utah, received the award for "Metric-agnostic Ranking Optimization" under the Google research area of Machine Learning and Data Mining. Another CICS alum, Aruna Balasubramanian, also received one of this year's Google Research Scholar Program awards.

CIIR Director James Allan, CICS professor and chair of the faculty, was re-elected treasurer of the Computing Research Association (CRA) Executive Committee. His second two-year term begins on July 1, 2021. More available on CRA site.

Effective January 2021, Professor James Allan and Assistant Professor Hamed Zamani have taken on new leadership roles in the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR) as Distinguished Professor Emeritus Bruce Croft has stepped down as CIIR director. Dr. Allan becomes the CIIR director and Dr. Zamani is named associate director.

CIIR co-director from 2003-2020, Professor James Allan becomes the CIIR director as he continues in his second term as UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) chair of the faculty. In other leadership positions, he was elected as Treasurer of the Computing Research Association (CRA) Executive Committee in 2019 and again in 2021 after having been elected to the CRA board of directors in 2018. In 2021, he was inducted into the SIGIR Academy and named an ACM Fellow for his research contributions to the field.

CIIR Associate Director Zamani joined the CICS faculty in 2020. With his new role in the CIIR, Dr. Zamani will increase efforts on building up relations with industry partners and other new faculty at UMass Amherst. For 2020-2021, he organized the CIIR Talk Series, an initiative for researchers and practitioners working on information retrieval and related disciplines to present their work. Prior to joining the CICS faculty, Dr. Zamani, a PhD alum of the CIIR, was a researcher at Microsoft. From 2017-2019, he was the ACM SIGIR Student Liaison representing North and South Americas.

After he retired from the CICS faculty in 2018, Dr. Croft remained as director of the CIIR, a position he held since the CIIR was established as an NSF S/IUCRC in 1992. Prof. Croft was also the inaugural dean of CICS from 2015-2017. He plans to continue with research and advising doctoral students. Recent recognition of his research included being named to the 2021 class of IEEE Fellows for contributions to the field of information retrieval and being selected to the SIGIR Academy.

The CIIR is recognized as one of the world’s leading IR research groups. The Center has produced over 1,100 publications, worked with over 100 industry/government partners, and has graduated over 75 Phd students.

CIIR Director James Allan and former CIIR Assistant Director Jamie Callan were among five selected to the 2021 class of ACM SIGIR Academy inductees. They join former CIIR Director Bruce Croft who was selected to the ACM SIGIR Academy inaugural class in the fall of 2020.

According to SIGIR, "inductees to the SIGIR Academy are the principal leaders in IR, whose efforts have shaped the discipline and/or industry through significant research, innovation, and/or service."

James Allan, UMass Amherst CICS professor and chair of the faculty, Bruce Croft, CICS distinguished emeritus professor, and Jamie Callan, professor and interim director of the Carnegie Mellon University Language Technologies Institute and a UMass Amherst Computer Science Phd alum, will be presented with the ACM SIGIR Academy awards during the 2021 ACM SIGIR conference.

CICS article on the SIGIR Academy inductees.

ACM award announcement.

The Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval's (CIIR) Talk Series continues this Spring 2021 semester with researchers and practitioners speaking about their work on IR and related disciplines. The CIIR Talk Series started on October 9, 2020 with talks being held biweekly (via Zoom for now) on Fridays.

Spring Semester 2021 speakers include: Krisztian Balog, Kyunghyun Cho, Laura Dietz, Bhaskar Mitra, Yongfeng Zhang, Claudia Hauff, Asia J. Biega, and Vanessa Murdock.

Speakers for the Fall Semester 2020 included Grace Hui Yang, Donald Metzler, Leif Azzopardi, Evangelos Kanoulas, Susan Dumais, and Fernando Diaz.

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, selected CIIR Director and Professor James Allan as a 2020 ACM Fellow. He is being recognized "for contributions to information retrieval, including topic detection and tracking." Along with Prof. Allan, CICS Professor Brian Levine was also named to the 2020 class of ACM Fellows. According to ACM, "the ACM Fellows program recognizes the top 1% of ACM Members for their outstanding accomplishments in computing and information technology and/or outstanding service to ACM and the larger computing community."

CIIR Director and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Bruce Croft has been named an IEEE Fellow, effective January 2021, for "contributions to information retrieval."

The IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one- percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.

The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for advancing technology for humanity. Through its 400,000 plus members in 160 countries, the association is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics.

Read more on Croft's award.

Professor James Allan was recently awarded a UMass Manning/IALS Innovation Grant for his work on developing tools “explaining contradictory claims in the biomedical/healthcare domain.” CIIR Postdoctoral Fellow/Lecturer Razieh Negin Rahimi will team with Prof. Allan on the project.

CIIR Phd alum Jeff Dalton, School of Computing Science faculty at the University of Glasgow, is a recipient of the prestigious Turing AI Acceleration Fellowship. Dr. Dalton is one of 15 selected in 2020 for the Fellowship which is named after Alan Turing, a pioneer in artificial intelligence. As part of the Fellowship, according to the University of Glasgow, Dalton will receive funding for five years to work on "new forms of conversational artificial intelligence to improve the capabilities of voice-based virtual personal assistants." More on the award.

The Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR) announces a new CIIR Talk Series that brings in researchers and practitioners to speak about their work on IR and related disciplines. Starting on October 9, the talks are being held biweekly (via Zoom for now) on Fridays for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters.

CIIR Director Bruce Croft and Assistant Professor Hamed Zamani each received Best Paper Awards at the 29th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2020) held virtually in October 2020.

The CIKM 2020 Best Paper Award (Full Paper Research Track) was presented to Valeriya Bolotova-Baranova, Vladislav Blinov, Yukun Zheng, Mark Sanderson, Falk Scholer, and Bruce Croft for their paper, "Do People and Neural Networks Pay Attention to the Same Words? Studying Eye-tracking Data for Non-factoid QA Evaluation."

The CIKM 2020 Best Paper Award (Resource Track) was presented to Hamed Zamani, Gord Lueck, Everest Chen, Rodolfo Quispe, Flint Luu, and Nick Craswell for their paper, "MIMICS: A Large-Scale Data Collection for Search Clarification."

The CIKM 2020 Best Paper Award (Doctoral Consortium) was awarded to RMIT Phd student Leila Tavakoli. Leila is co-advised by RMIT's Falk Scholer and Mark Sanderson (former CIIR Postdoc) and UMass Amherst CIIR's Croft and Zamani.

CICS Distinguished Professor and CIIR Director Bruce Croft was selected as an inaugural inductee to the ACM SIGIR Academy. According to the ACM SIGIR, this award honors and recognizes researchers "who have made significant, cumulative contributions to the development of the field of information retrieval and have influenced the research of others."

The SIGIR Academy inductees are presented at the ACM SIGIR conference in the year of their induction. "Selected annually, these are the principal leaders of the field, whose efforts have shaped the discipline and/or industry through significant research, innovation, and/or service."

Hamed Zamani (Ph.D. 2019) joins the CIIR at UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) as tenure track Assistant Professor in Computer Science in Fall 2020. Assistant Professor Zamani comes to the CIIR from Microsoft where he was a Researcher. His research interests include information retrieval, recommender systems, and machine learning. Zamani, a former doctoral student in the CIIR, received the 2019 CICS Outstanding Dissertation Award, Search & AI Award sponsored by Microsoft Research, and the CICS Outstanding Graduate Student Award. From 2017-2019, he was the ACM SIGIR Student Liaison representing North and South Americas.

CIIR co-Director James Allan, CICS professor and chair of the faculty, received a 2019 Amazon Research Award for research on Explanation of Product Facets for Conversational Search. Prof. Allan will collaborate with CIIR Postdoctoral Researcher Razieh (Negin) Rahimi on the research.

According to Amazon, “the Amazon Research Awards help fund outstanding, innovative research proposals across machine learning, robotics, operations research, and more, while helping strengthen connections between Amazon research teams, academic researchers, and their affiliated institutions."

CIIR PhD alum, Jeff Dalton ('14), of the University of Glasgow, also received a 2019 Amazon Research Award for his work on "Knowledge-Grounded Conversational Product Information Seeking."

CICS article on Amazon award.

CIIR doctoral student Chen Qu was selected to receive one of the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) Outstanding Graduate Awards for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Chen Qu and Zezhou Cheng received the Outstanding Synthesis Project awards for interdisciplinary research projects. CICS synthesis projects are significant research projects that combine at least two different research areas and involve an intellectual stretch to bring them together. Qu won for his project, “Conversation History Understanding in Conversational Question Answering.” As his doctoral advisor Bruce Croft, distinguished professor emeritus and CIIR director said, “Chen did an outstanding job developing and testing models for conversational question answering. He compared his approach to state-of-the-art baselines and published papers on the basis of the research.” More on the awards.

CIIR/CICS doctoral student Sheikh Muhammad Sarwar, CICS doctoral student Katherine Keith, and Andrew Halterman from MIT political science have received a Kaggle Open Data Research Grant for their project, "Semantic Role Annotations For Real-World Political Texts." The grant will support work to improve semantic role labeling systems performance in text descriptions of sub-national violence around the world.
More on the project.

It is with great sadness that we announce that Michael Zarozinski passed away unexpectedly on December 9, 2019. Michael was a Senior Software Engineer who has been working in the CIIR (including IESL) since 2013. He will be greatly missed. More on Michael in the CICS news article. See the posting for information on donations in his name and on the celebration of his life planned for the spring.

Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR) researchers within the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences are providing a dataset that consists of Swahili and Somali queries translated from the CLEF 2000-2003 Campaign for Bilingual Ad-Hoc Retrieval Tracks (

For researching on low-resource languages, the CIIR has produced an extension of 200 queries by translating all four years of bilingual queries (2000-2003) into Swahili and Somali, with topic set IDs of C001-C200 corresponding to the other languages that exist in the CLEF data. They used a translation organization to translate the title and description of the English queries from that topic set into Swahili and Somali languages. Somali is in the Afro-Asiatic language family, and Swahili is in the Niger-Congo language family. Both are mostly spoken in Africa.

More information can be found in their paper, “Simulating CLIR Translation Resource Scarcity using High-resource Languages,” by authors Hamed Bonab, James Allan, and Ramesh Sitaraman in the Proceedings of ACM SIGIR International Conference on the Theory of Information Retrieval (ICTIR 2019).

The dataset and paper can be downloaded at:

At the ACM SIGIR International Conference on the Theory of Information Retrieval (ICTIR 2019) held in Santa Clara, CA in October, CIIR researchers received a best full paper award and a best short paper honorable mention.

CIIR doctoral student Daniel Cohen (above left), along with co-authors Scott Jordan (CICS Autonomous Learning Lab) and CIIR Director Bruce Croft, received the Best Full Paper Award for their paper, "Learning a Better Negative Sampling Policy with Deep Neural Networks for Search."

Also, at ICTIR 2019, CIIR doctoral student Helia Hashemi (above right) and co-authors Hamed Zamani (PhD. '19) and Bruce Croft received the Best Short Paper Honorable Mention for their paper, "Performance Prediction for Non-Factoid Question Answering."

A number of our CIIR alums from the Silicon Valley gathered for an evening social with current CIIR researchers and CIIR alums who were attending ICTIR 2019 in Santa Clara, CA in October.

Pictured at the event: Front row (l. to r.): Hamed “Rab” Bonab, Michael Bendersky, Sheikh Sarwar; Back row: Zeki Yalniz, Xing Yi, Yen-Chieh Lien, Liu Yang, Qingyao Ai, Helia Hashemi, Ben Carterette, Myung-ha Jang, Negin Rahimi, Dan Cohen, Manmeet Singh, Ali Montazeralghaem, Weize Kong

Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR) doctoral student Helia Hashemi is the primary developer of ANTIQUE (“Answering Non-facToId QUEstions), a large-scale non-factoid question answering collection that Google AI researchers chose for use in their TF-Ranking (TensorFlow) Tutorial presented during SIGIR 2019 and ICTIR 2019. She, along with co-authors, CIIR Director Bruce Croft, CIIR doctoral student Hamed Zamani, and then-CIIR visiting research scholar Mohammad Aliannejadi of the University of Lugano, released a technical paper, “ANTIQUE: A Non-Factoid Question Answering Benchmark,” to provide details on the collection and to report on benchmark results for a set of retrieval models. More on the project and links to download the CIIR ANTIQUE dataset and the Google hands-on demonstration of TF-Ranking.

The UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences is currently seeking new faculty (Assistant/Associate Professor) in Information Retrieval to join the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval. Position details and how to apply.

CIIR doctoral student Chen Qu is the first recipient of the W. Bruce Croft Graduate Scholarship in Computer Science. He received the scholarship in 2019.

During the CLEF 2019 (the 10th Conference and Labs of the Evaluation Forum), Distinguished Professor Emeritus Bruce Croft gave a keynote address on "The Relevance of Answers." The conference is being held in Lugano, Switzerland from September 9 - 12, 2019. Prof. Croft's keynote presentation is available for download.

During the 42nd International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval (SIGIR 2019), Distinguished Professor Bruce Croft gave a keynote address on "The Importance of Interaction for Information Retrieval." The conference was held in Paris, France from July 21 to 25, 2019. Prof. Croft's keynote presentation is available for download.

While in Europe, CIIR Director Croft was also a Lecturer at the 12th European Summer School in Information Retrieval (ESSIR 2019) held in July in Milan, Italy. His lecture on how to do research on information retrieval can be found here.

Shown are some of the CIIR alums (along with CIIR co-Director James Allan and current student Hamed Zamani) who gathered for a photo opp at SIGIR 2019. Pictured from left to right: Hamed Zamani, Anton Leuski, Laura Dietz, Elif Aktolga, James Allan, David D. Lewis, and Jeff Dalton.

CIIR doctoral alum Xing Yi ('11) and co-author James Allan, professor and CIIR co-Director, were honored with the Test of Time Award for their publication in 2009’s European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR). The award was presented during ECIR 2019, held in Germany in April, for their paper "A Comparative Study of Utilizing Topic Models for Information Retrieval."

Doctoral students Su Lin Blodgett and Hamed Zamani (shown left to right) are this year's recipients of the Accomplishments in Search & AI Awards, sponsored by Microsoft. More details on Su Lin and Hamed.

The publication, "Unsupervised Explainable Controversy Detection from Online News," was awarded the Best Application Short Paper at the 41st European Conference on IR Research (ECIR 2019). The paper is authored by CIIR doctoral student Youngwoo Kim and Professor James Allan, CIIR co-Director. Youngwoo presented the paper at the conference held in April 2019 in Cologne, Germany.

CIIR co-Director James Allan was elected treasurer of the Computing Research Association (CRA) Executive Committee for a two-year term starting on July 1. More details.

Bob Cook, former CIIR managing software engineer, died unexpectedly on November 18, 2018 at the age of 57. More on Bob's life and career.
View the full obituary.

The CIIR hosted an international UMass Amherst/Montreal Research IR Summit in September 2018 in Hadley, MA to bring together industry and academic researchers for future collaborations. Twenty-five researchers from Microsoft Research Montreal, the University of Montreal, and the CIIR gathered for a full day summit on current areas of information retrieval research.

A CIIR paper received the Best Short Paper Award at SIGIR 2018. The paper, "Cross Domain Regularization for Neural Ranking Models using Adversarial Learning," was co-authored by CIIR Doctoral student Daniel Cohen and Distinguished Emeritus Professor Bruce Croft along with Microsoft's Bhaskar Mitra and Katja Hofmann.

In addition, a paper presented at SIGIR 2006, "LDA-based document models for ad-hoc retrieval," by Xing Wei (CIIR alum, Ph.D. '07) and Bruce Croft, was selected for the SIGIR 2018 Test of Time Award Honorable Mention.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Bruce Croft, together with CIIR doctoral students Daniel Cohen and Hamed Zamani, were selected to receive a 2018 Bloomberg Data Science Research Grant Program Award.

The CIIR researchers’ work, Neural Information Retrieval with Limited Data, is one of five research projects selected for funding by Bloomberg in the 2018 international competition.

Their research will focus on studying how to design and train machine learning algorithms for information retrieval when there is no large-scale data in hand, such as in the financial domain. Developing effective approaches to learn from limited data has the additional potential benefit that search tools will be able to be effectively deployed more quickly to a new domain.

To address training IR models with limited data, they will explore weak supervision in neural information retrieval (IR) models and knowledge transfer from a domain where enough training data is available to a target domain in which limited data prevents researchers from directly training effective models.

The Bloomberg Award follows another recent industry collaboration grant on neural models for IR. Croft and doctoral student Qingyao Ai received funding this year from Amazon for their project, Representation Learning for Product Search. Croft, Ai, and Hamed Zamani met with the Amazon A9 researchers in California in March to discuss the CIIR team’s research plans.

Distinguished Professor Bruce Croft is retiring this spring after spending his thirty-nine-year career on the computer science faculty at UMass Amherst. He is setting aside his faculty responsibilities to focus on research and on directing the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval (CIIR), which he founded in 1992.

Read the full article on IR research pioneer Bruce Croft's career and retirement.

Check out the photos from Bruce's May 22, 2018 retirement party held in the Computer Science Building.

Prior to the start of SIGIR 2018, a group of Bruce's former Ph.D. students and CIIR collaborators gathered in Ann Arbor to celebrate his retirement.

The 2018 ACM SIGIR Conference paper statistics show that CIIR authors are among the top producers of publications accepted at the conference to be held in Michigan in July.

Distinguished Professor Bruce Croft, CIIR Director, is #1 on the list of authors for all papers accepted at the conference and the #1 author of full papers.

Among the list of top authors of all SIGIR 2018 papers, which includes full papers, short papers, and demos, Croft is #1 with 10 papers accepted. Hamed Zamani, a current CIIR Ph.D. student, is ranked #6 with 5 papers accepted. Jiafeng Guo of Tsinghua University, former visiting faculty at the CIIR, is ranked #3 for both full papers and all papers at SIGIR 2018.

Among organizations, the CIIR is tied for second in the list of the top five institutes with the highest number of publications at SIGIR 2018 for both full papers and for all papers. The top five institutes includes Microsoft at #1 with 15 papers, UMass Amherst/CIIR and Chinese Academy of Sciences tied for #2 with 13 papers each, Tsinghua University #4 with 12 papers, and RMIT, a current collaborator with the CIIR on a number of research projects, #5 with eight papers. The CIIR is also #2 for the highest number of full papers.

More on the SIGIR 2018 statistics.

CICS Professor and CIIR Co-Director James Allan is one of five newly elected members of the Computing Research Association's (CRA) Board of Directors. His term runs from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021. Details .

Nine current and former CIIR faculty, students, and postdocs participated as part of a group of 61 researchers in the Third Strategic Workshop in Information Retrieval in Lorne (SWIRL), held in Lorne, Australia on February 13-16, 2018.

The goal of the SWIRL workshop (also held in 2004 and 2012) is to explore the long-range issues of the Information Retrieval field, to recognize challenges that are on (or even over) the horizon, to build consensus on some of the key challenges, and to disseminate the resulting information to the research community. The intent is that this description of open problems will help to inspire researchers and graduate students to address the questions, and will provide funding agencies data to focus and coordinate support for information retrieval research.

The SWIRL participants included CIIR co-directors James Allan and Bruce Croft, along with CIIR alumni Jamie Callan (Carnegie Mellon Univ.; Ph.D. alum and former faculty), Ben Carterette (Univ. of Delaware; Ph.D. alum), Jeff Dalton (Univ. of Glasgow; Ph.D. alum), Fernando (Spotify; Ph.D. alum), Laura Dietz (Univ. of New Hampshire; former postdoc), Mark Sanderson (RMIT; former postdoc), and Mark Smucker (Univ. of Waterloo; Ph.D. alum). In addition to the nine CIIR personnel and alums in attendance, nine of the other SWIRL participants have co-authored papers with CIIR researchers.

The organizers of this year’s workshop were Shane Culpepper of RMIT (a research collaborator with the CIIR) and CIIR alum Fernando Diaz. A report will be published on the results of the three-day discussions among the researchers. More at:

CICS professor and chair of the faculty, James Allan, co-director of the CIIR, is featured in a new video highlighting his work in information retrieval. Watch it here.

Professor James Allan, CIIR co-Director and Chair of the Faculty of the College of Information and Computer Sciences, was featured in the "CRA Board Member Highlight" article in the January 2019 issue of the CRA's Computing Research NEWS. Prof. Allan's three year term on the CRA Board of Directors began in 2018.

The Microsoft BCS/BCS IRSG Karen Spärck Jones Award 2017 will be awarded to Fernando Diaz, Director of Research at Spotify. According to the KSJ award site, "Fernando has made major contributions in both IR and NLP is in the very spirit of the award." He will give a keynote address at the 40th European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR 2018) in Grenoble, France in March 2018. A CIIR alum, Fernando received his Ph.D. from UMass Amherst Computer Science in 2008. Prior to Spotify, he was a senior researcher and founding member of Microsoft Research New York. More at:

The CIIR marks its 25th anniversary in September 2017. A CIIR history timeline was created to look back on the CIIR's 25 years. The CIIR is featured in an article in the CICS Significant Bits Fall 2017 newsletter (see reprint).

Doctoral students Qingyao Ai and Ari Kobren (shown left to right) are this year's recipients of the College's Accomplishments in Search & Mining Awards, sponsored by Microsoft Research. More details on Qingyao and Ari.

The paper, "A Markov random field model for term dependencies," by Donald Metzler (CIIR alum, Ph.D. '07) and Bruce Croft, presented at SIGIR 2005, was selected for the SIGIR 2017 Test of Time Award Honorable Mention. More on the SIGIR 2017 awards at:

In August 2017, Professor James Allan gave a lecture, "Extracting Knowledge from Big Data - Information Retrieval," for the Hokkaido Summer Institute (HSI) course held at Hokkaido University's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology (IST). The HSI course, “Introduction to Big Data and Cybersecurity for Graduate Students,” was organized by Hokkaido's IST and their Global Station for Big Data and Cybersecurity (GSB), Global Institution for Research and Education (GI-CoRE).

According to Hokkaido, the "GSB was launched in April 2016 as an interdisciplinary research hub to cover big data, information network, and cybersecurity promoting international collaborative research with the University of Massachusetts Amherst."

CIIR doctoral student, Hamed Zamani, was chosen as one of six ACM SIGIR Student Liaisons. Laura Deitz, the ACM SIGIR Student Affairs Chair, announced the students on July 26, 2017. The students were chosen from regions across the world and will be formally introduced during the SIGIR 2017 conference being held in Tokyo in August. According to Dr. Dietz, "the goal is to make sure SIGIR students have the best network for their future career, by better engaging with the IR student community through student representatives. The liaisons will seek to support students by organizing social events at conferences, helping students network and gathering feedback through student specific forums to aid the SIGIR community as a whole." Hamed is one of two students who will represent the Americas & Australia. The students can be followed on Twitter at:

Former CIIR Assistant Director and CICS alum, Jamie Callan (Ph.D. '93) received an Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research during the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences 2017 Outstanding Achievement and Advocacy Awards ceremony held on campus on April 28, 2017. Jamie (center) is joined by CIIR co-directors James Allan and Bruce Croft to accept his award. More on the award at

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.

View the SIGIR Forum (July 2017, Volume 51, Number 2) Special Issue on Test of Time Awards from the Years 1978 - 2001 for more on some of these papers.

Distinguished Professor Bruce Croft was an organizer of the ACM SIGIR 2016 Workshop on Neural Information Retrieval (Neu-IR) that took place in Pisa, Italy. It was the first forum for academic and industrial researchers, working at the intersection of information retrieval (IR) and machine learning, in the rapidly growing area of neural models in information retrieval. For more information on the Workshop, read the report in the ACM SIGIR Forum (vol. 50, issue 2).

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 2016 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. Posted: April 2016

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.

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.

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.

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 competed against Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The matches aired 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.