Research with ‘Style’ – Leif Azzopardi’s Recent Work

Posted on October 10, 2011


I’ve written several papers as a grad student, and it feels like I’ve learned a bit about paper writing over the last 4 years. Looking back, however, I feel that my research has followed several patterns found in information retrieval research. In other words, it’s not easy to speak of something as ‘my own research style’. I’m talking about the kind of qualities which characterize my research so that people can tell it’s my work even in a blind test.

Establishing one’s own style may not be an easy feat, since I can’t think of many people who I consider as a researcher with distinctive ‘style’. Yet I know of a person who has a distinctive style of research (both in terms of writing and presentation) — Leif Azzopardi. Here are his recent papers which have been quite inspirational to me:

  • Accessibility in Information Retrieval
  • Usage Based Effectiveness Measures
  • Query Side Evaluation: An empirical study of effectiveness and effort
  • Retrievability: An Evaluation Measure for Higher Order Information Access Tasks
  • The Economics in Interactive Information Retrieval

Although these papers deal with different topics. They share some of the following characteristics, which I list below along with corresponding papers:

Model the entire process of information seeking, going beyond rank list evaluation in query-response paradigm:

  • Usage-based effectiveness measures are defined from the stream-view of interactive IR.
  • Economics in IIR paper analyzes the whole search session from cost-production perspective

Model the whole spectrum of information needs & objects, whereas most of IR research deals with small set of queries and top documents:

  • Query-side evaluation is the effort to generate the whole distribution of possible queries
  • Retrievability paper analyzes the accessibility of documents within the entire collection

Look at the flip side of things:

  • Usage-based evaluation is proposed instead of rank-based one
  • Query-side evaluation is proposed instead of system-side one
  • Retrievability of given document was considered instead of relevance

Borrow theory from related disciplines, and adopted to IR problems:

  • Accessibility view is originated from transportations theory
  • Principle of least effort and Zipf’s law were used to analyze the impact of query on retrieval effectiveness
  • Economics view allows the analysis of best input (query and judgment) combination

Use simulation techniques to model information access scenarios:

  • Query generation technique is widely used in many of his papers
  • Entire user interaction is simulated in ‘Economics of IIR’ paper
These papers have provided new insights into how I view IR, and they are certainly very refreshing after reading so many of the “Our system improved …..” kind of paper. My plan is to review some of these papers in detail here at some point.
Posted in: IR