Distinguished Lecture: Dr. Raghu Ramakrishnan

Computer Science Distinguished Lecture
"The Future of Search and Information Discovery"

Dr. Raghu Ramakrishnan, Yahoo! Research

4:00pm Wednesday, 19 October
Marksbury Auditorium

Photo of Raghu Ramakrishnan

Abstract: 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 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.

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

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.