CS591CXZ: Advanced Topics in Information Retrieval (Spring 2010)

Instructor: ChengXiang Zhai


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Basic Information: Online seminar, 1 credit hour, CRN:31655

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 include a few important topics and emerging topics in IR, such as user modeling, retrieval models, opinion integration and summarization, information trustworthiness, and social networks. The papers will be selected from top conferences or journals in Information Retrieval and related areas (e.g., Natural Language Processing, World Wide Web, Data Mining, and Machine Learning).

The seminar course will be run online. Specifically, we will have all the discussions of papers online using Wiki, and there will be only two physical meetings. The first meeting happens at the beginning of the semester and will be a one-hour orientation meeting for all of us to 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 will be a two-hour "synthesis workshop" in which we will summarize what we have learned over the semester and identify a set of most interesting new research directions for future research.

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 questions or make critical comments about the paper and/or review. Critical comments and questions that challenge assumptions made in a 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. Depending on the number of students in the class, each student can be expected to lead the discussion for 1~2 papers over the semester. The papers will be selected by the instructor in consultation with the students.

The course will be graded as "Pass" or "Fail". In order to get a "Pass", the student must (1) read the assigned paper(s) in detail and finish a one-page review for each assigned paper according to our schedule; (2) answer questions and respond to comments made by others on an assigned paper; (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 at least 10 papers by contributing at least one critical comment or question to each.

The class mailing list will be "cs591cxzsp10@cs.uiuc.edu" (not functioning before Jan 25, 2010), which would reach all the students who have registered for the course and the instructor. The students will receive a message at the beginning of the semester to set up a time for the first physical meeting. A wiki page for the course will be created around that time if not earlier.

The following is a very rough schedule: