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New England Database Society

Friday, February 24, 2012

sponsored by Netezza Corporation

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   The Future of Search and Information Discovery
Raghu Ramakrishnan
Yahoo! Research

Friday, February 24, 2012, 4PM
HP/Vertica Computer Science Lounge (Volen 104), Brandeis University

(preceded by a wine and cheese reception at 3:00 pm, and followed by dinner at 6:00 pm)


Web search has traditionally focused on returning the most relevant URLs for a user's search query terms, and portals have concentrated on aggregating and presenting information in ways designed to facilitate browsing and topical exploration. Search has been driven by algorithmic ranking approaches, and portals have relied on human curation and editorial judgement. In recent years, however, web search and content optimization for portals have come closer, and are proceeding on a path towards greater convergence. On the one hand, search is increasingly focused on understanding a user's intent more precisely and delivering the appropriate results, be it URLs or aggregated information distilled from diverse sources, as evidenced by the proliferation of features like search assist and direct displays. This trend is accompanied by significant shifts in the underlying technology as well, with a great emphasis being placed on building knowledge bases that describe searchable concepts in rich semantic terms, to enable delivery of aggregated results. On the other hand, there is a shift in how portal content is being programmed as well, with an increasing blend of algorithmic ranking and editorial policy, and the explicit goal of delivering personalized content that is responsive to the user's current information need. In this talk, I will discuss this trend using examples drawn from Yahoo!'s search and portal properties, and the science that underpins them.

Speaker's Bio:

Raghu Ramakrishnan is Chief Scientist for Search and Cloud Platforms at Yahoo!, and is a Yahoo! Fellow, heading the Web Information Management research group. His work in database systems, with a focus on data mining, query optimization, and web-scale data management, has influenced query optimization in commercial database systems and the design of window functions in SQL:1999. His paper on the Birch clustering algorithm received the SIGMOD 10-Year Test-of-Time award, and he has written the widely-used text "Database Management Systems" (with Johannes Gehrke). His current research interests are in cloud computing, content optimization, and the development of a "web of concepts" that indexes all information on the web in semantically rich terms. Ramakrishnan has received several awards, including the ACM SIGKDD Innovations Award, the ACM SIGMOD Contributions Award, a Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Madras, a Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering, and an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award. He is a Fellow of the ACM and IEEE.

Ramakrishnan is on the Board of Directors of ACM SIGKDD, and is a past Chair of ACM SIGMOD and member of the Board of Trustees of the VLDB Endowment. He was Professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was founder and CTO of QUIQ, a company that pioneered crowd-sourcing, specifically question-answering communities, powering Ask Jeeves' AnswerPoint as well as customer-support for companies such as Compaq.

Maintained by Olga Papaemmanouil olga AT