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University of Helsinki Department of Computer Science

Department of Computer Science

581257 Information Retrieval Methods (6 ECTS/op, 3 cu/ov) Spring 2007

Teacher: Prof. Helena Ahonen-Myka

Lectures (optional)

Exercises (optional)

  • 22 January - 19 February, 2007: Mon 12-14, C221
  • Tasks

Project work (obligatory)

  • Introduction in the lecture on 22 Jan. Forming of groups 22 Jan during the exercise session.
  • Each project group will give an informal presentation during the last exercise session on Monday February 19th (starting at 12.15 in C221). The length of the presentation should be about 15-20 minutes. The project work does not have to be completed at the time of the presentation; the aim is to give an overview of the progress so far (what is your topic, what kind of queries and results you have studied, etc.). Remember that the project report deadline is on Friday, March 9th.
  • Instructions for project work

Course exam: 26 February 2007 at 9-12 (obligatory)


Basic concepts of information retrieval. Storing and retrieval processes. Retrieval models. Matching methods. Processing of natural language text for retrieval. Query strategies and user interfaces.

The course covers (about) the same content as the course "INFOA32 Tiedonhaun menetelmät" at the University of Tampere.


The course is a master level course. No special prerequisites. Basic computer skills and some understanding on algorithms are necessary.


Register through the department registration system from 9 January 2007 (major students), 10 January (minor students).

KIT-students who do not have a student number of the University of Helsinki can send an email to the teacher.

How to complete the course

Only the project work and the exam are obligatory, but students are recommended to attend the lectures and solve the exercises.

There are four exercise sessions. The students are given 3-4 tasks per week to solve in advance on their own. Each week there is an exercise session, where last week's tasks are discussed and solved together. Students can get a maximum of 5 points for tasks that they solve in advance. Distant-learning KIT-students may return their solutions by email to the teacher.

The students present their projects in the last exercise session (19 February 2007). Students can get a maximum of 15 points for their project.

Students can get a maximum of 40 points for the exam.

The exam is based on lectures, exercises and project work. Students must complete their project in order to be allowed to take the exam.

Example question types (the actual exams may differ from this example!)

  1. "Define": Explain (max 5 points/question, max half a page/question), e.g., Quorum search, or the implementation of a proximity operator, or filtering and routing.

  2. "Compute": (max 12 points) Given a document-term matrix with term frequencies, compute document similarities, similarity between a given query and documents,

  3. "Essay": Describe (max 13 points, 1-1.5 pages) a certain IR concept in full, e.g., relevance feedback

When answering a "Define" question, please be short and precise. When answering a "Compute" question, please be precise and give all stages and formulas that you use in you commputations. Justify what you do. When asnswering an "Essay" question, try to be complete (i.e. telling everything you know about it) without writing nonsense or trivial things.



Separate exams

If you have completed the project work, you can raise your grade in a separate exam. Or if you decide to do the course on your own, you must return the project work before you take the separate exam. Guidance for the project work is given only during the course. During other periods you have to do the project work without guidance.

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