by Nicola Ferro

The main mission of the PROMISE EU FP7 network of excellence is to advance the evaluation and benchmarking of multimedia and multilingual information access systems. Together with the ELIAS research network on information access system evaluation, funded by the European Science Foundation, PROMISE organized a winter school on “Bridging between Information Retrieval and Databases” as a week long event in Bressanone, Italy, from 4-8 February 2013.

The aim of the school was to give participants a grounding in the core topics that constitute the multidisciplinary area of information access to unstructured, semi-structured, and structured information. The idea of the school stemmed from the observation that, nowadays, databases are increasingly using techniques that have traditionally been typical of information retrieval and, viceversa, the use of database-oriented techniques is becoming more common in information retrieval.

17 experts from academia and industry were invited to speak on a large variety of topics ranging from introductory talks on databases, information retrieval, experimental evaluation, metrics and statistics to advanced topics such as semantic search, database keyword search, semi-structured search, and performance evaluation. Focused lectures were devoted to bridging gaps between information retrieval and databases and to the management and sharing of research data via evaluation infrastructures. Hot topics concerned evaluation with respect to usefulness, crowdsourcing, evaluation on social media, and moving from evaluation to applications.

52 participants from 16 countries attended the courses (17% MsC students, 63% PhD students, 10% post-docs, 10% academic) with a background mostly on databases (32%), information retrieval (40%), both (15%), and natural language processing (9%). 15 scholarships (supported by ELIAS) were made available to assist participation. The multidisciplinarity of the participants and lectures stimulated lively exchanges of ideas and many questions. Most of the speakers stayed for the entire week, enriching the discussions. Interestingly enough, the school turned out to be a brainstorming and discussion opportunity also for the lecturers, since they had the occasion of meeting colleagues from different fields with different perspectives, on a common ground of shared topics and issues.

To favour discussion and knowledge sharing, participants were asked to bring a poster describing their own research activities and plans. The three best posters were awarded a small prize and the winners were invited to contribute a short paper on their activities for the volume on the school lectures, currently under preparation.

The school presentation slides can be found at the link below. Information on all PROMISE publications, including the Proceedings of the PROMISE 2012 winter school on “Information Retrieval meets Information Visualization” can be accessed on the main PROMISE web site.


Please contact:
Nicola Ferro
University of Padua, Italy
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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