Blog Archive: 2011

CFP: 3rd Workshop on Collaborative Information Retrieval


We are organizing a third workshop on collaborative information retrieval, this time in conjunction with CIKM 2011. The first workshop, held in conjunction with JCDL 2008, focused on definitional issues, models for collaboration, and use cases. The second workshop, held in conjunction with CSCW2010, explored communication and awareness as related to collaborative search. This third workshop will focus on system building, algorithms, and user interfaces for collaboration.

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A Gentle Introduction

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Quantum Computing: A Gentle Introduction by Eleanor Rieffel and Wolfgang PolakOur book, Quantum Computing: A Gentle Introduction, has been out for a little over a month. So far, it has received as much attention from weaving blogs as science blogs, due to the card-woven bands on the cover.

MIT press takes pride in their cover designs, but warns authors that  “schedules rarely allow for individual consultation between designers and authors.” They do, however, ask authors to fill out a detailed questionnaire that includes questions asking for the authors’ thoughts with respect to a cover. It was the third question “What would you like the viewer to think or feel when they see the cover?” that prompted me to think that a fabric with abstract, colorful designs would suggest a “gentle” introduction to an abstract and colorful subject. Continue Reading

How much does time weigh?

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As Miles wrote yesterday, our paper was accepted to SIGIR 2011. The idea that time has an impact in ranking documents is not new; the problem seems to be to know when to take it into consideration. For example, while Li and Croft showed improvements in ranking when incorporating the notion of recency, we found that the algorithm degrades performance of non-temporal queries. (This is obvious, in a sense: if a ranking algorithm is biased toward more recent documents, and recency is not important for a given query, it will de-emphasize otherwise well-matching documents, thereby reducing MAP.)

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The AppleEye controversy and the need for educating users


Ever since Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan published their discovery in the Where 2.0 conference, the popular press has been abuzz with sensational articles on how iPhones and iPads are recording your location in a secret file. The article itself misstates some key technical details. For one thing, the database is “hidden” because all the internal files in iOS are hidden and only visible in a jail broken phone; the file itself is only accessible to the root user. For users who make unencrypted backups of their iPhones using iTunes, this location data is exposed on their desktops. One hopes that users do not make unencrypted backups of their iPhone contents on a stranger’s desktop. If, on the other hand, an intruder had control over my account, they could access far more private data than just my location history.

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TalkMiner update


Since its debut a few months ago, TalkMiner has been busily crawling the web and indexing all sorts of talks and lectures. In the mean time we engaging in some self-promotion. As the press release details, we’ve now indexed over 15,000 talks, so there is likely to be something for everyone here, whether you’re into 3D models, or big data.

So when you think about turning to YouTube for some lecture, think TalkMiner instead. And if you have any comments or content you’d like to have indexed, let us know.

Want to help make computer science history?

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Scott Aaronson has been asked by MIT to put together a list of the top 150 events in computer science history as part of the celebration of MIT’s 150th anniversary. You can vote on the potential entries here (you will need to register by providing a login name, password, and e-mail address). For more information about the project, see this blog post which includes an early version of the list, and a more recent blog post of his on the subject.

I’ve mentioned some of Scott’s work before, in a post about classical computer science results inspired by quantum information processing, and in a post on an overview of  quantum computing for technology managers I wrote a couple of years ago. His results don’t make it into the top 150 computer science results of all time, but are good candidates for a list of the top 150 results of the last decade.

A magical way to learn computer science

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Former FXPAL intern Jeremy Kubica’s Computational Fairy Tales is a fresh new entry into the blogosphere that introduces a unusual way to learn computer science: read a series of charming fairy tales. Each post contains a few sentences of introduction to a computer science concept followed by a fairy tale illustrating that concept.

I particularly enjoyed Loops and Making Horseshoes which illustrates Continue Reading

Are device drivers your kind of thing?


FXPAL would like to hire a summer intern who wants to work on Android internals. In particular, we are talking with a vendor for an innovative pen/touch interface sensor. We are exploring how to effectively support pen and multi-touch interface controls on forthcoming tablets using this sensor. While Android (Gingerbread) has some interesting touch events, there are some things this hardware provides that are not reflected through to the Android event system. Depending on exactly what happens in Honeycomb, we are thinking about modifying the device driver and event mapping code to show through some additional device information. This information would then be reflected in an application we are developing that combines pen and touch inputs in novel ways.

While it would be nice to find someone with Android source code experience, we would be happy to offer an internship to someone who was an experienced OS person (Unix?) who is interested in learning Android.

Please see the FXPAL internship page for more information about applying, and do not hesitate to ask me any questions you might have about this project. Please disregard the January application time-frame.

Released: Reverted Indexing source code

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I am pleased to announce that we are releasing a version of the reverted indexing framework as open source software! The release includes the framework and an implementation in Lucene.

Reverted indexing is an information retrieval technique for query expansion, relevance feedback, and a variety of other operations. The details are described on our web site, in several posts on this blog, and in our CIKM 2010 paper. The source code and JAR file can be downloaded from Reverted Indexing page; see the Javadocs for details of the API.

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