Tuesday, May 4, 2010

WWW 2010 in Raleigh, NC, USA

I am back from the sunny Raleigh, NC, USA. Besides the nice weather, I had a great time last week attending the 19th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW 2010), where I presented our paper on Exploiting query reformulations for Web search result diversification, a joint work with Craig Macdonald and Iadh Ounis. The paper introduces a probabilistic formulation of our xQuAD framework for search result diversification, and analyses the effectiveness of query reformulations provided by three commercial search engines for the diversification task. My talk was very well received, with lots of questions from the audience, and subsequent chatting with many people from both academia and industry.

The blend academia-industry was indeed a signature of WWW. I was also impressed with the multidisciplinary nature of the confere
ncewith up to five parallel sessions, there was always something for everyone! In particular, from the sessions I attended, a few papers caught my attention:
  • Clustering query refinements by user intent, by Eldar Sadikov et al. (Stanford University and Google)
  • Optimal rare query suggestion with implicit user feedback, by Yang Song and Li-wei He (Microsoft Research)
  • Building taxonomy of Web search intents for name entity queries, by Xiaoxin Yin and Sarthak Shah (Microsoft Research)
  • Exploring Web scale language models for search query processing, by Jian Huang et al. (Microsoft Research Asia, Facebook, and Penn State University)
  • Classification-enhanced ranking, by Paul N. Bennett et al. (Microsoft Research)
  • Ranking specialization for Web search: A divide-and-conquer approach by using topical RankSVM, by Jiang Bian et al. (Georgia Tech and Yahoo! Labs)
  • Generalized distances between rankings, by Ravi Kumar and Sergei Vassilvitskii (Yahoo! Research)
  • Relational duality: Unsupervised extraction of semantic relations between entities on the Web, by Danushka T. Bollegala et al. (University of Tokyo)
The conference also featured three passionate keynotes:
  • Vint Cerf discussed a broad range of topics of interest on today's Web, where everything is connected: 1.8 billion users, around a billion Web-enabled mobile devices, and still a large room for growth in developing countries. Touched points included the implications of the explosion of data production on mobility, accessibility, security and privacy, intellectual property, digital preservation, as well as new technologies (e.g., cloud computing).
  • dannah boyd discussed privacy implications of the availability of "big data". Her keynote revolved around common misconceptions associated with the analysis of data produced by online social activities, as well as ethical concerns related to using this data in the first place, "just because it is accessible".
  • Carl Malamud from public.resource.org described his experiences trying to convince seven bureaucratic institutions to make public data publicly accessible. His keynote was organised around "10 rules for radicals", a guide on how to break the barriers towards negotiating with bureaucrats.
On Thursday night, the conference banquet featured an exciting performance by the North Carolina string band Carolina Chocolate Drops. Check out Snowden's Jig (Genuine Negro Jig) and Don't get trouble in your mind for a taste.
Friday held the closing ceremony, with the announcement of the award winners.
Best Paper:
  • Factorizing personalized Markov chains for next-basket recommendation, by Steffen Rendle, Christoph Freudenthaler, and Lars Schmidt-Thieme (Osaka University and University of Hildesheim)
Best Student Paper:
  • Privacy wizards for social networking sites, by Lujun Fang and Kristen LeFevre (University of Michigan)
Best Posters:
  • How much is your personal recommendation worth, by Paul Dütting, Monika Henzinger and Ingmar Weber (EPFL Lausanne, University of Vienna, and Yahoo! Research)
  • SourceRank: Relevance and trust assessment for deep Web sources based on inter-source agreement, by Raju Balakrishnan and Subbarao Kambhampati (Arizona State University)
The closing ceremony also featured a short presentation of WWW 2011, to be held in Hyderabad, India. WWW 2012 will take place in Lyon, France.

Finally, on Saturday, the IW3C2 announced the Brazilian bid as the winner to host WWW 2013, which I was very glad to hear about!