2019-07-30: SIGIR 2019 in Paris Trip Report

ACM SIGIR 2019 was held in Paris, France July 21-25, 2019 in the conference center of the Cite des sciences et de l'industrie. Attendees were treated to great talks, delicious food, sunny skies, and warm weather. The final day of the conference was historic - Paris' hottest day on record (42.6 C, 108.7 F).
There were over 1000 attendees, including 623 for tutorials, 704 for workshops, and 918 for the main conference. The acceptance rate for full papers was a low 19.7%, with 84/426 submissions accepted. Short papers were presented as posters, set up during the coffee breaks, which allowed for nice interactions among participants and authors. (Conference schedule - contains links to videos of many of the talks)

Several previously-published ACM TOIS journal papers were invited for presentation as posters or oral presentations. We were honored to be invited to present our 2017 ACM TOIS paper, "Comparing the Archival Rate of Arabic, English, Danish, and Korean Language Web Pages" (Alkwai, Nelson, Weigle) during the conference.

Opening Reception

On Sunday, the conference opened with the Doctoral Consortium, tutorials, and a lovely reception at the Grande Galerie de l'Evolution.

Keynote 1 (July 22)

The opening keynote was given by Bruce Croft (@wbc11), Director of UMass' Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval, on the "Importance of Interaction in Information Retrieval" (slides).
Croft began with categorizing two IR research communities: CS as system-oriented and IS as user-oriented
From there, he gave an overview of interaction in IR and pointed to questions and answers (and conversational recommendation) as an essential component of interactive systems. Asking clarifying questions is key to a quality interaction.  Interaction in IR requires a dialogue.

I appreciated the mentions of early infovis in IR.

I'll let these tweets summarize the rest of the talk, but if you missed it you should watch the video when it's available (I'll add a link).

SIRIP Panel (July 23)

The SIGIR Symposium on IR in Practice (SIRIP) (formerly known as the "SIGIR industry track")  panel session was led by Ricardo Baeza-Yates and focused on the question, "To what degree is academic research in IR/Search useful for industry, and vice versa?"

The panelists were:
It was an interesting discussion with nice insights into the roles of industrial and academic research and how they can work together.

    Women in IR Session (July 23)

    The keynote for the Women in IR (@WomenInIR) session was given by Mounia Lalmas (@mounialalmas) from Spotify.

    This was followed by a great panel discussion on several gender equity issues, including pay gap and hiring practices.

    Banquet (July 23)

    The conference banquet was held upstairs in the Cite des sciences et de l'industrie.

    During a break in the music, the conference award winners were announced:

    Best Presentation at the Doctoral Consortium: From Query Variations To Learned Relevance Modeling
    Binsheng Liu (RMIT University)

    Best Short Paper: Block-distributed Gradient Boosted Trees
    Theodore Vasiloudis (RISE AI, @thvasilo), Hyunsu Cho (Amazon Web Services), Henrik Boström (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)

    Best Short Paper (Honorable Mention): Critically Examining the "Neural Hype": Weak Baselines and the Additivity of Effectiveness Gains from Neural Ranking Models
    Wei Yang (University of Waterloo), Kuang Lu (University of Delaware), Peilin Yang (No affiliation), Jimmy Lin (University of Waterloo)

    Best Paper (Honorable Mention): Online Multi-modal Hashing with Dynamic Query-adaption
    Xu Lu (Shandong Normal University), Lei Zhu (Shandong Normal University), Zhiyong Cheng (Qilu University of Technology (Shandong Academy of Sciences)), Liqiang Nie (Shandong University), Huaxiang Zhang (Shandong Normal University)
    video of talk

    Best Paper: Variance Reduction in Gradient Exploration for Online Learning to Rank
    Huazheng Wang (University of Virginia), Sonwoo Kim (University of Virginia), Eric McCord-Snook (University of Virginia), Qingyun Wu (University of Virginia), Hongning Wang (University of Virginia)
    video of talk

    Test of Time Award: Novelty and Diversity in Information Retrieval Evaluation (pdf)
    Charles L. A. Clarke, Maheedhar Kolla (@imkolla), Gordon V. Cormack, Olga Vechtomova, Azin Ashkan, Stefan Büttcher, Ian MacKinnon
    Published at SIGIR 2008, now with 881 citations 

    Keynote 2 (July 24)

    The final keynote was given by Cordelia Schmid (@CordeliaSchmid) from INRIA and Google on "Automatic Understanding of the Visual World" (video).
    She presented her work on understanding actions in video and interaction with the real world.  One interesting illustration was video of a person walking and then falling down.  Without taking enough context into account, a model may classify this as a person sitting (seeing only the result of the fall), but with tracking the action, their model can detect and correctly classify the falling action.

    My Talk (July 24)

    After the final keynote, I presented our 2017 ACM TOIS paper, "Comparing the Archival Rate of Arabic, English, Danish, and Korean Language Web Pages" (Alkwai, Nelson, Weigle) during Session 7B: Multilingual and Cross-modal Retrieval.

    Other Resources

    Check out these other takes on the conference:

    Au Revoir, Paris!


    Updated (2019-10-14):  added links to available videos