Information retrieval researchers to gather in Glasgow for conference

Hundreds of the world’s leading computing science researchers are gathering in Glasgow for Europe’s leading conference on information retrieval.

Information retrieval (IR) is the field of computing science and artificial intelligence that underpins vital technologies like search engines, conversational assistants and digital libraries. It organises large collections of documents, images and video and enables quick and accurate presentation of relevant data and/or answers on demand.

The 46th European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR 2024), which is sponsored by organisations including Google and Bloomberg Engineering, is set to kick off on Sunday 24th March at the city’s Radisson Blu Hotel.

It will run until Thursday 28th March, with a packed programme of events, workshops, demonstrations, paper presentations and a day devoted specifically to industry engagement.

Representatives from major international organisations like Google, Bloomberg, Spotify and Amazon will be attending, along with more than 400 researchers from universities and the private sector around the world.

Among the main events will be a day-long session on ’IR4Good’, which will discuss the ethical issues in how information retrieval technologies are used across society. Attendees will explore how researchers and practitioners can help ensure that future developments in IR will be applied in ways which are fair, transparent, ethical, inclusive and sustainable.

The Industry Day on Thursday March 28th will bring together researchers from academia and industry to promote knowledge sharing and foster innovation. Speakers from organisations including Google Deepmind, Spotify and Amazon will discuss recent developments in large language models, generative AI, data discoverability and more.

This year’s conference will continue to provide opportunities for early-career researchers and students, including the first ECIR Collab-a-thon, which aims to facilitate collaborations among participants and help forge relationships with like-minded researchers.

The conference will also include the first presentation of the Keith van Rijsbergen award, named in honour of the pioneering University of Glasgow information retrieval researcher, who founded the University’s first research group in the field nearly 40 years ago.

Professor Iadh Ounis, Professor Craig Macdonald, and Dr Graham McDonald from the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science are the organisers of this year’s event.

Dr McDonald said: "I’m thrilled to be part of the organising committee for this year’s European Conference on Information Retrieval, and to be welcoming IR researchers back to the city for the first time since 2008.

"Information retrieval has seen many significant advances since then, as it works to stay ahead of the vast expansion in the amount of data created, stored and shared every second of every day. We’ve also seen the rapid development and high public visibility of machine learning and artificial intelligence over the last few years, which have transformed information retrieval technologies at their cores.

Professor Ounis added that "I’m delighted that we are presenting the first Keith van Rijsbergen award this year. Keith helped build the foundations of information retrieval as we know it today and I’m proud that we’re able to recognise his important contributions to IR and also celebrate the achievements of another world-leading IR researcher at the same time.

"We have a fantastic programme of events this year and I’m looking forward to welcoming people from around the world to the city."

The event’s keynote speakers are Professor Charles L. A. Clarke from Canada’s University of Waterloo, Professor Josiane Mothe from France’s Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse and INSPE, Université de Toulouse, and Professor Carlos Castillo from Spain’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

The conference is sponsored by Bloomberg Engineering, Google, the Social AI CDT, the Scottish Informatics & Computing Science Alliance (SICSA), Rora, the ACM Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR), Springer, TextKernel, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Convention Bureau, the Glasgow Information Retrieval Group and the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science.