ITL's Donna Harman Recognized for Achievement in Information Retrieval

Donna Harman, a manager in the Information Access and User Interfaces Division, received the 1999 Tony Kent Strix Award in London on September 15, 1999. The award is given annually by the U.K. Institute of Information Scientists in recognition of an outstanding practical innovation or achievement in the field of information retrieval. In presenting the award to Harman, the Institute cited her leadership and inspiration in managing the Text REtrieval Conference (TREC) workshop series, which it called "the most important development in experimental information retrieval since the Cranfield tests of the late fifties and early sixties."

TREC is a series of annual evaluations of technologies for retrieval of text documents. Since 1992, systems that have participated in these evaluations have doubled their performance. Last year, there were over 60 participants worldwide, all voluntary, implying that companies see this as important enough to be willing to spend their own money to participate. Major companies have been involved, such as AT&T, BBN/GTE, GE, Harris, IBM, IIT, Lexis-Nexis, CLARITECH, TextWise, C. Imperial Bank of Commerce, Fujitsu, NEC, and NTT DATA. Since 1992, there have been over 120 participants from 18 countries. Over 800 TREC databases have been sold during the life of the program. Most commercial search engines, including all current Web search engines, include technologies first developed for these annual evaluation conferences.

The TREC program has had very high impact. The TREC proceedings are disseminated both online (via a Web site) and in paper versions. The TREC collections are the most frequently used (and cited) test collections in the information retrieval community. The TREC conference series and the test collections continue to serve as the premier evaluation forum for many types of information retrieval research. The doubling of performance means that when a query is made for documents (e.g., as with Web search engines), twice as many relevant documents will appear in the top 10 or 20 returns.

CONTACT: Marty Herman, ext. 4495