CS591CXZ: Advanced Topics in Information Retrieval (Spring 2009)

Instructor: ChengXiang Zhai


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In this advanced seminar course, we will review and discuss a selected set of recent research papers in the general area of information retrieval (IR). The purpose is two-fold: First, the students will learn about the most recent research progress in IR. Second, the students will also have an opportunity to practice skills for doing research literature review and identifying interesting new research directions.

The topics of papers will be primarily about IR for Web 2.0, which is roughly defined as managing and exploiting Web 2.0 data, such as forums, blogs, and social networks. The papers will be selected from conferences in Information Retrieval, World Wide Web, Data Mining, Natural Language Processing, and Machine Learning.

Not only will our topics be about Web 2.0, we will also leverage Web 2.0 technologies to run this seminar course in an online manner. We will only have two physical meetings and have all the discussions of papers online using Wiki. The first meeting happens at the beginning of the semester and will mainly be to have all the students to meet the instructor and meet with each other. We will also talk about the course policy and format, and the instructor will answer any questions from the students. The second meeting happens at the end of the semester and is mainly to discuss the optional co-authoring of a survey paper based on the papers we read over the semester.

The specific format for discussion is as follows. For each paper, there will be one student to lead the discussion. This student will have to read the paper in detail and write an informative review of the paper. All other students are also expected to briefly read the paper and ask at least one question or make one critical comment about the paper and/or review. Critical comments and questions challenging assumptions made in the paper are especially encouraged as they will help identify ways to further improve the work. The leader of the paper is expected to answer all the questions and respond to all the comments. The discussion can continue if more people would post additional comments. At the end of the semester, the leader of a paper is expected to summarize all the discussion and produce a revised review which should contain a few specific ideas for further extending the work reported in the paper. Each student is expected to lead the discussion for two papers over the semester, and we expect to cover 20~30 papers in total.

The course will be graded as "Pass" or "Fail". In order to get a "Pass", the student must (1) read the two assigned papers in detail and finish a one-page review for each according to our schedule; (2) answer questions and respond to comments about the two papers; (3) write a revised review to incorporate the results of discussion in the end of the semester, and (4) briefly read all other papers/reviews and participate in the discussion of each by contributing at least one critical comment or question.

In the end of the semester, the instructor will work with those of the students who are interested in co-authoring to integrate all the reviews into a coherent survey on "Web 2.0 Information Retrieval". The survey will be disseminated online as an informal technical report. Note that co-authoring this survey is purely optional and would not affect your grade.

The class mailing list is "cs591cxzsp09@cs.uiuc.edu", which reaches all the students who have registered for the course and the instructor. More information about the mailing list, including archived old messages, can be found at http://lists.cs.uiuc.edu/mailman/listinfo/cs591cxzsp09.

Click here to visit the course Wiki, where you can find the list of papers to be read and discussed for the course.