Department of Computing Sciences
Search Technologies and Personal
Professor: Dr. Lillian N.
Semester: Fall 2008
Office: 161 Mendel
Hours: (By Chat in Blackboard or in person): Monday and Thursday
4 - 6pm. Other times by appointment or if you drop by and I am
Course Description: This
is a somewhat split topic, but not an unreasonable combination.
We do a lot of searching. An immense amount of information is
available to us. We find it and then we have to do something with
This special topic course will address both sides of the information
A 2005 Workshop on Personal Information Management summarized the topic
information management or PIM is attracting increasing attention as an
area of study. In the ideal world, we have the right information at the
right time, in the right place, in the right form, and of sufficient
completeness and quality to perform the current activity. Tools and
technologies help so that we spend less time with burdensome and error
prone actions of information management (such as filing). We then have
more time to make creative, intelligent use of the information at hand
in order to get things done.”
We will look at a variety of
topics including search engine performance, information retrieval,
database management, artificial intelligence and user-interface
issues. Certainly, we will talk about digital libraries. We will
explore a variety of tools and get to understand the issues
Our goal will be an understanding of what the deluge of available
information means to us and how we can harness it for our purposes and
how we can advance the state of the art in the control of information
for our personal use.
The class is open to advanced
undergraduates and graduate students in computing related
Students from other disciplines should talk to the instructor before
Course Goals and Objectives:
A solid familiarity with search,
both as a searcher and as an implementer
* Describe basic characteristics of an Information Retrieval system
* Describe how information is discovered by search engines
* Demonstrate the ability to formulate effective search strategies
using existing web resources
* Review available search packages
* Implement and demonstrate a search tool such as Lucene
Awareness of Information Sources for
individuals and small groups
* List the sources of information overload.
* List the types of information that must be organized and managed.
* Catalog our own information management challenges
Recognition of the role of Digital
Libraries in Information Management
* Describe and compare general purpose digital libraries such as
DSpace, Greenstone, Fedora
* Compare digital libraries with special purpose databases (Readerware,
Familiarity with the current state of Personal Information Management
* Review and discuss modern approaches to PIM
* Select tools, configure, and review their effectiveness
Recognize and Protect Intellectual Property
* Describe the essential elements of rights management in shared
Information about the course
Every indication is that the best way
to learn is to be actively
involved in discovery, in creating your own knowledge. As a result,
participation is a fundamental requirement of this course.
Each class session will involve some discussion. You will make at least
one presentation in front of the class. If that idea makes you somewhat
uncomfortable, take that as a sign that you need to overcome that
feeling and become confident in your ability to speak to a group and to
present your work and your ideas.
Attendance: I assume that every student
will attend every class unless
I have heard previously that you have a reason for missing class. In
all cases, you are responsible to discover what has been done in the
class you miss. Just keeping up with class by hearing about happenings
from other students is not sufficient, however. Your input into our
discussions is important. Your absence not only hurts you; it deprives
the rest of the class of the valuable contributions you would have
made. A part of the grade is reserved for active participation in every
Some of your work will be submitted in
written form. The
quality of the writing will be considered in grading your work.
Resources are available to help with writing well, and I will be glad
to give you some asistance. I do recognize that for many people in this
class, English is not your first language. I will consider that in
evaluating your work. However, I will expect you to make a
conscientious effort to write clearly and to present your ideas in a
well-organized and understandable form. Villanova has a writing center
where any student can obtain assistance with writing. I will be happy
to lend assistance also. Learning to express yourself clearly will
serve you well in future endeavors.
Integrity is a very serious matter at Villanova and will be strictly
enforced in this class. You will find the resources you need to
be sure you understand the issues at the Academic
Integrity link on our department web page. We will review the
university site at the first class and you will be required to read the
available material and discuss it at the second class. If you
ever have any question about what is permissable in terms of your
assignments and your class responsibilities, ask about it. Do not
make any assumptions that may turn out to be wrong. If you made a
bad judgment, it may have very serious consequences.
Grades will be
based on successful and
timely completion of assignments
and projects, and on active participation in class and in online
discussions. We will have a brief quiz every second week or so to
make sure that we are achieving our objectives. All quizzes will
be cumulative, with about half the questions being new and about half
referring to previous weeks' work. Questions will be repeated and
new questions will be added. By the time we get to the end of the
semester, you should not have to worry about remembering the early
material to do a good final exam. You will have been
building up to that all semester long.
A graduate student
who does what is expected in
assignments receives a grade of B. Better work receives better grades.
An A is quite possible, but does require exceptional work, not just
meeting requirements. The undergraduates taking this class will
have somewhat lower expectations. However, a grade of B requires
better than minimal work and a grade of A requires something much
better than just what is expected.
|Bi-weekly quizzes (lowest score
|Presentations, responders of
|Attendance and active
You will do a semester project that
will involve an in-depth investigation of some aspect of search
technology or personal information management. All projectw will
be done in groups of 2 or 3. A semester project is expected to
take the whole semester to complete successfully. If you leave it
to the last week or two, you will not succeed in doing an acceptable
project. We will have periodic status checks on project
work. Be prepared to describe your work at any time in class.
Here are a few ideas to get you started on choosing a project:
you do a report: The grade for your report will
depend, in part, on the thoroughness of your review of what is
available. If you do a wonderful job of comparing two tools when
are dozens available, you will limit the possible grade. If your
literature review does not cover the available literature very well,
your grade will be limited even if you do a wonderful job of comparing
and summarizing what you do review.
- A detailed literature review
on one of the topics of this course. This involves discovering,
reading, summarizing and comparing published material about either
search technology or personal information management. Conference
papers are an appropriate source of materials. Materials found on
the web are fine, as long as you do a suitable evaluation of the
credibility of the resource.
- A comparative review of a
number of tools for one type of information management. For
example, you might compare several photo management tools, describing
each and listing the features that set each apart from the others and
then summarizing their strengths and weaknesses. Your report
would conclude with your evaluation of the state of the art of this
type of information management based on your review of these materials.
- A significant contribution to
an open source project related to our topics. Do you have a way
to improve Lucene? Can you find a tool for managing e-mail that
you can improve? You must prepare your project for evaluation by
the class and for submission to the open source project organization.
- A totally new tool that you
have created. Have you had an idea for a useful tool and never
got around to doing anything about it? Maybe this will be the
beginning of an important product.
If you do a programming
project: You must present your idea in enough detail for
us to evaluate the effort and the likely significance of the
result. This is partly to make sure you do not take on more than
you can reasonably do in one semester and partly to make sure your
choice is suitable for this course.
projects will be presented to the class. The class members will
provide feedback during progress reports and also at the final
presentation. Class member evaluation will be a factor in the
final grade assigned.
Course Web Presence
are advantages and disadvantages to the Blackboard course management
system used at Villanova. I prefer that my materials be open and
accessible, so I will use this public web site. We will use the
Blackboard site from time to time to take advantage of tools that are
there. Be sure to log in to the course site and become familiar
with its use.
Link to Schedule page