Essay on Information Retrieval

Essay on Information Retrieval

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Michael Lesk adopts Shakespeare’s theory of seven ages of human being which start from infancy to senility to predict the evolution of Information Retrieval from 1945 to 2010. In this paper, Lesk tried to compare two approaches to information retrieval. The first approach is intellectual analysis by human and machine – artificial intelligence introduced by Vannevar Bush’s. The second approach is simple exhaustive processing – statistical detail introduced by Warren Weaver’s .The paper was written in 1995, when the Internet and World Wide Web technology still crawling to grow. I’ve identified three important elements to be elaborated in this essay regarding the evolution of information retrieval.

Important Element 1: The statistical detail vs the artificial intelligence approaches
The first IR system was built which used indexes and concordances. When the first large scale information systems were developed, computers can search indexes must better than human, which required more detailed indexing. However, indexing could also become too expensive and time consuming. Therefore, the idea of free-text searching is initiated, which eliminates the need for manual indexing. Objections pointed out that selecting the right words might not be the correct label for a given subject. One solution is official vocabularies. The idea of recall and precision also came out as methods for evaluating information retrieval systems, and they showed that free-text indexing was as effective as manual indexing and much cheaper. New information retrieval techniques such as relevance feedback, multi-lingual retrieval were invented. The 1960s also was the start of research into natural language question-answering, and researchers began building systems ...


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...his.
Lesk further pointed out some potential problems such as illegal copying, copyright law itself, difficulty for people to upload, legal liability and public policy debates restricting technological development and availability. These remain challenges for information systems today and probably will some time to resolve.

As the conclusion, the paper made good contribution to the field by describing the history of the information retrieval systems from 1945 to 1996 with abundant information on the various technologies developed, information retrieval systems built, and how they affected the research in information retrieval. I think artificial intelligence will start to play a leading role in information retrieval in the following years and one day we will have true question answering type of information retrieval at the finger tip of every Internet user.

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