HCIR 2012 Challenge: People Search

As we get ready for the Sixth Symposium on Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval this October in Cambridge, MA, people around the world are working on their entries for the third HCIR Challenge.

Our first HCIR Challenge in 2010 focused on exploratory search of a news archive. Thanks to the generosity of the Linguistic Data Consortium (LDC), we were able to provide participants with access to the New York Times (NYT) Annotated Corpus free of charge. Six teams presented their entries:

Search for Journalists: New York Times Challenge Report
Corrado Boscarino, Arjen P. de Vries, and Wouter Alink (Centrum Wiskunde and Informatica)

Exploring the New York Times Corpus with NewsClub
Christian Kohlschütter (Leibniz Universität Hannover)

Searching Through Time in the New York Times (WINNER)
Michael Matthews, Pancho Tolchinsky, Roi Blanco, Jordi Atserias, Peter Mika, and Hugo Zaragoza (Yahoo! Labs)
(covered in Technology Review: “A Search Service that Can Peer into the Future“)

News Sync: Three Reasons to Visualize News Better
V.G. Vinod Vydiswaran (University of Illinois), Jeroen van den Eijkhof (University of Washington), Raman Chandrasekar (Microsoft Research), Ann Paradiso (Microsoft Research), and Jim St. George (Microsoft Research) 

Custom Dimensions for Text Corpus Navigation
Vladimir Zelevinsky (Endeca Technologies)

A Retrieval System Based on Sentiment Analysis
Wei Zheng and Hui Fang (University of Delaware)

In 2011, we continued wth a Challenge focused on the problem of information availability. Four teams presented their systems to address this particularly difficult area of information retrieval:

FreeSearch – Literature Search in a Natural Way
Claudiu S. Firan, Wolfgang Nejdl, Mihai Georgescu (University of Hanover), and Xinyun Sun (DEKE Lab MOE, Renmin)

Session-based search with Querium (WINNER)
Gene Golovchinsky (FX Palo Alto Lab) and Abdigani Diriye (University College London)

David L.Ostby and Edmond Brian (Visual Purple)

Query Analytics Workbench
Antony Scerri, Matthew Corkum, Keith Gutfreund, Ron Daniel Jr., Michael Taylor (Elsevier Labs)

This year’s Challenge focuses on people search — that is, on the problem of people and expertise finding.

Here are examples of the kinds of tasks we will publish after the systems are frozen at the end of August:

  • Hiring

    Given a job description, produce a set of suitable candidates for the position. An example of a job description:

  • Assembling a Conference Program

    Given a conference’s past history, produce a set of suitable candidates for keynotes, program committee members, etc. for the conference. An example conference could be HCIR 2013, where past conferences are described at

  • Finding People to deliver Patent Research or Expert Testimony

    Given a patent, produce a set of suitable candidates who could deliver relevant research or expert testimony for use in a trial. These people can be further segmented, e.g., students and other practitioners might be good at the research, while more senior experts might be more credible in high-stakes litigation. An example task would be to find people for

For all of the tasks there is a dual goal of obtaining a set of candidates (ideally organized or ranked) and producing a repeatable and extensible search strategy.

Best of luck to this year’s HCIR Challenge participants — I’m excited to see the systems that they present this October at the Symposium!

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.