Information retrieval (IR) is the art and science of searching for information in documents, searching for documents themselves, searching for metadata which describes documents, or searching within databases, whether relational stand alone databases or hypertext networked databases such as the Internet or intranets, for text, sound, images or data. There is a common confusion, however, between data retrieval, document retrieval, information retrieval, and text retrieval, and each of these have their own bodies of literature, theory, praxis and technologies.
IR is a broad interdisciplinary field, that draws on many other disciplines. Indeed, because it is so broad, it is normally poorly understood, being approached typically from only one perspective or another. It stands at the junction of many established fields, and draws upon cognitive psychology, information architecture, information design, human information behaviour, linguistics, semiotics, information science, computer science and librarianship.
Automated information retrieval (IR) systems were originally used to manage information explosion in scientific literature in the last few decades. Many universities and public libraries use IR systems to provide access to books, journals, and other documents. IR systems are often related to object and query. Queries are formal statements of information needs that are put to an IR system by the user. An object is an entity which keeps or stores information in a database. User queries are matched to documents stored in a database. A document is, therefore, a data object. Often the documents themselves are not kept or stored directly in the IR system, but are instead represented in the system by document surrogates.
In 1992 the Department of Defense, along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) , cosponsored the Text Retrieval Conference (TREC) as part of the TIPSTER text program. The aim of this was to look into the information retrieval community by supplying the infrastructure that was needed for such a huge evaluation of text retrieval methodologies.
For a successful Information Retrieval some kind of a formal representation of documents is needed. There is a bunch of models existing for this purpouse:
- Standard Boolean Model
- Vector Space Model, Generalized Vector Space Model , Topic-based Vector Space Model
- Latent Semantic Index
- Binary Independence Retrieval
just to name a few.
Major figures in information retrieval
- Gerald Salton
- W Bruce Croft
- Karen Spärck Jones
- C. J. van Rijsbergen
Awards in this field: Tony Kent Strix award
- Document classification
- Geographic Information System
- Digital Libraries
- Spoken Document Retrieval
- Cross-language information retrieval
- Latent semantic analysis
- ACM SIGIR: Information Retrieval Special Interest Group
- The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine
- Glossary for Information Retrieval
- Text Retrieval Conference (TREC)
- Information Retrieval (online book) by C. J. van Rijsbergen
- International Conference on Image and Video retrieval, July 21-23, 2004