Piyush BansalPiyush Bansal

Research paper accepted at SIGIR ‘14

Today was rather a good morning. I woke up to find out that my work on Structured Information Extraction from Books has been accepted to appear in ACM SIGIR ‘14. I couldn’t believe at first, because 1.) It was my first publication. 2.) SIGIR is one of the topmost conferences in the fields of Information retreival.

The conference is going to be held from 6-11 July in Gold Coast, Australia. I asked LinkedIn guys for leave and they’re pretty nice about it, and gave a week off. To ask for a leave from your 11 week long internship doesn’t sound very good, but they were very supportive, and congratulated me on this. That was however, only the first step.

Next step is to apply for all kinds of travel grants and await the results. Travelling internationally, even to present in top tier conferences can be hard for an Indian student. There’re not sufficient funds available. The same may not be true for some institutions in the nation, but it holds for most of the institutions. This scenario is sad, and very unmotivating. I’m lucky to have some money saved from my GSoC ‘13 as a backup plan, incase I don’t get sufficient funding, but that may not be the case with everyone, or with even me everytime. Something serious needs to be done in order to harness this potential.

Coming back to the research paper - It’s basically how to extract information about a character from a book, and build a social network profile for him. Say, how’d Harry Potter’s Facebook profile look ? How do we establish Where and When was he born, Where did he go to school, Who are his friends, What are his interests, and so on. Answering these questions in an automated fashion require some serious NLP, Machine Learning, and Information Retreival techniques. That was what the paper was on - how and what techniques to use in order to build a system that can do this automatically. The demo paper titled - “CharBoxes: A System for Automatic Discovery of Character Infoboxes from Books” was written in co-authorship with Prof. Manish Gupta.

I’m really looking forward to attend SIGIR, and get a chance to meet the top persons from IR world and listen to them speak. One major reason to attend the conference is also that it’d widen my horizon, and give me brand new ideas.

It’s going to be an awesome summer!