IS4200/CS6200: Information Retrieval

Fall 2012

This course provides an overview of the important issues in information retrieval, and how those issues affect the design and implementation of search engine software. The course emphasizes the technology used in Web search engines and the information retrieval theories and concepts that underlie all search applications. Mathematical experience including basic probability is strongly desirable.

Instructor: David Smith, Assistant Professor in Computer and Information Science (Office Hours: Wednesdays, 2-3; Thursdays, 5-6; WVH 356)

TAs: Madanmohan Kolla (Fridays 1-3) and Chinmay Sawaji (Mondays 3-5, WVH first floor lab)

Class meeting: Thursdays, 6-9 p.m., Shillman 420

Piazza discussion board:

Course Texts

There is no single required text for the course; however, readings will be assigned from two different texts, and we strongly suggest following the readings from one or both of the following:

Lecture Notes

Lecture notes will be posted on the syllabus.


Course Policies


There will be three assignments. Instructions and due dates will be posted on the course website as they are assigned. Some of the problems will be difficult, and it will often be helpful to discuss them with others. Feel free to form study groups; however, the idea is for everyone to understand the problems and experience working through the solutions, so you may not simply "give" a solution to another classmate. In particular, each student must write up his or her own homework solutions and must not read or copy the solutions of others. If you work with others on a problem, you must note with whom you discussed the problem at the beginning of your solution write-up.

Late policy: Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the announced due date. You will be granted one homework extension of four calendar days, to be used at your discretion, no questions asked. This policy does not apply to projects. After the first late assignment, unexcused late assignments will be penalized 20% per calendar day late. We normally will not accept assignments after the date on which the following assignment is due or after the solutions have been handed out, whichever comes first. If you will have a valid reason for turning in an assignment late, please see the instructor in advance to obtain full credit.


There will be approximately two projects with more extensive programming. You will have approximately eight to ten days to complete each project.

Term Project

Graduate students will be responsible for a term project that will consist of either an in-class presentation on a recent topic in IR or an additional project, at the discretion of the student.

Undergraduates are welcome to complete the term project for extra credit.

Course Evaluation



Academic Integrity

All work submitted for credit must be your own.

You may discuss the homework problems or projects with your classmates, the TA, and the instructor. You must acknowledge the people with whom you discussed your work, and you must write up your own solutions.

Any written sources used (apart from the text) must also be acknowledged; however, you may not consult any solutions from previous years' assignments whether they are student or faculty generated.