CSCE 670 :: Information Storage and Retrieval :: Spring 2011

MWF 3:00-3:50pm in HRBB 113
Instructor: James Caverlee, HRBB 403
Office Hours: Monday 11-12, Thursday 1-2, or by appointment
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Texas A&M University

TA: Brian Eoff, HRBB 408D
Office Hours: Tuesday 10-11, Wednesday 4-5, or by appointment

Course Schedule :: Project

Course Summary

In this course, we'll study the theory, design, and implementation of text-based and Web-based information retrieval systems. By the end of the semester you will be able to:


All course announcements will be mailed to the official course mailing list (to your tamu account), so you should check your TAMU mail often. If you have a specific question for either me or the TA please send us an email with 670 in the subject line. We will make our best effort to respond promptly, but we only guarantee a response within one week.

You are encouraged (but not required) to join the unofficial student-driven discussion forum: csce670-spring2011.


Officially, the pre-requisites are either CPSC 310 (Database Systems) or 603 (Database Systems and Applications), or approval of the instructor. I mainly expect all students to have had some previous exposure to basic probability, statistics, algorithms, and data structures. You should be able to design and develop large programs and learn new software libraries on your own. Homework assignments will typically require Python, Java, plus some web-based APIs (e.g., Yahoo BOSS).


The primary textbook is Introduction to Information Retrieval, Christopher D. Manning, Prabhakar Raghavan, and Hinrich Schutze, Cambridge University Press. 2008. Available at Cambridge University Press, at Amazon, and other fine booksellers.

We'll also read some selections from:

You may find some of these optional textbooks helpful, though none are required:


The course grading policy is as follows: 20% Midterm exam, 20% Final exam, 40% Homework, 20% Project.

Midterm and Final Exams. Both exams are closed book written exams. The midterm exam will be held in-class on Friday, March 11. The final exam will be held on Tuesday, May 10 from 10:30am to 12:30pm. For each exam, you may bring one standard 8.5" by 11" piece of paper with any notes you deem appropriate or significant.

Homework assignments. We will have 5 homework assignments over the course of the semester, each worth 8% of your final grade

All homework assignments must be submitted by 11:59pm Central time on the due date. For the homework assignments, you may talk to any other class member or work in groups to discuss the problems in a general way. However, your actual detailed solution must be yours alone. If you do talk to other students, you must write on your assignment who it is that you discussed the problems with. Your submitted work must be written solely by you and not contain work directly copied from others.

Homework Collaboration Clarification: To clarify, your homework is yours alone and you are expected to complete each homework independently. Your solution should be written by you without the direct aid or help of anyone else. However, we believe that collaboration and team work are important for facilitating learning, so we encourage you to discuss problems and general problem approaches (but not actual solutions) with your classmates. If you do have a chat with another student about a homework problem, you must inform us by writing a note on your homework submission (e.g., Bob pointed me to the relevant section for problem 3; or, Bob helped me install Lucene for problem 4). The basic rule is that no student should explicitly share a solution with another student (and thereby circumvent the basic learning process), but it is okay to share general approaches, directions, and so on. If you feel like you have an issue that needs clarification, feel free to contact either me or the TA.

Homework Late Days: For the homework assignments, you have a total of 5 late days that you can use during the semester. However, a single assignment can be submitted up to 4 days late only, so we can post solutions in a timely fashion. For the purposes of the class, a late day is an indivisible 24-hour unit. For example, if you turn in HW2 on February 20 at 1am, that will count as 2 late days. Once you exhaust your 5 late days, we will not accept any late submissions.

Regrade Policy: If you feel that we have made an error in grading either a homework or an exam, you may resubmit the assignment for a regrade. You must include a brief written statement describing what portion of the assignment solution has been graded in error. Note that we reserve the right to examine the entire assignment, so there is a chance we may find errors in your assignment that we missed before.

Project. For the project, you will work in teams of up to three students on a problem of your choosing that is interesting, significant, and relevant to Information Storage & Retrieval. You have two options for the project. Option 1: build a new tool to tackle some interesting real-world problem. Option 2: conduct a mini-research project. I encourage you to brainstorm on your own, but I will make available some sample topics to help guide you. At the end of the semester, we will hold a two-day IR Workshop during our regular class time. Each team will deliver an in-class project presentation and a brief 3-4 page executive summary.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policy Statement

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Department of Student Life, Services for Students with Disabilities, in Cain Hall or call 845-1637.

Academic Integrity Statements

AGGIE HONOR CODE: ''An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do.'' Upon accepting admission to Texas A&M University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor System. Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work. Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the TAMU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor System. For additional information please visit: