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ACM Honors Pioneer in Search Techniques



For her innovative contributions to information indexing and retrieval systems that have widely impacted the quality of search from the desktop to the Web, the ACM Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR) has recognized Susan T. Dumais of Microsoft Research with the 2009 Gerald Salton Award. Her research and development of novel interfaces and algorithms have greatly improved document indexing and search techniques, helping to build an important bridge between human computer interaction and information retrieval.

Dumais was an early developer of innovative interfaces and algorithms that reflected an understanding of computer users as well as the context of their search and information retrieval efforts. Her focus has been to improve the lives of users by incorporating the context of their work into search applications. She was also a co-developer of Latent Semantic Indexing in her early years. This statistical method helped overcome the 'vocabulary mismatch' problem in searching which arises when searchers use different terms than authors do. A key feature of LSI is its ability to extract the latent conceptual structure of a body of text by analyzing the associations between those terms that occur in similar contexts.

Her current research focuses on personal information management, user modeling and personalization, tightly coupling search and browsing, and implicit measures of user interest and activity. She has contributed to both the theoretical developments and practical implementations of key search issues, many of which incorporate knowledge of users and their context to improve the search process.

Currently an adjunct professor in the Information School at the University of Washington, Dumais has been a visiting faculty member at Stevens Institute of Technology, New York University, and the University of Chicago. She received at B.A. degree in mathematics and psychology from Bates College and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Indiana University. Prior to joining Microsoft Research in 1997, she was a member of technical staff at Bell Laboratories until 1984 when she joined Bellcore (now Telcordia).

The Gerard Salton Award is presented every three years to an individual who has made significant, sustained and continuing contributions to research in information retrieval. It is named in honor of Gerard Salton, developer of SMART (System for the Mechanical Analysis and Retrieval of Text), at Cornell University in the 1960s.


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