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NYU-Poly Hosts Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM) Conference

Polytechnic Institute of NYU hosted the ACM International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM, pronounced “wisdom”) February 3 – 6. The conference drew more than 200 participants from across the globe.

“It’s a venue where you have both industrial and academic researchers,” said Professor Torsten Suel of NYU-Poly’s Computer Science and Engineering Department and co-organizer of the conference, which included sponsorships from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, among others. “And a lot of the research being done in the field is in industry at the moment.”

That fact stimulated provocative exchanges during the events, which featured talks from luminaries such as Jan Pedersen, chief scientist of Bing Search, and Susan Athey, chief economist at Microsoft and professor at Harvard University, as well as presentations on such topics as relying on user feedback to generate better search rankings and “long-tail” searches or content preferences by light and heavy users.

But the WSDM conference itself was special, explained Professor Suel. “There are other conferences that are much bigger,” he said, “but they do not concentrate as closely as this one does on the topic of web search and data mining.”

Compared to the amount of innovation occurring in web search technologies, there are few conferences and other large-scale venues for researchers to share their work. The field demands more specialized attention, which explains the quick embrace of the conference — only in its third year — by computer and social scientists. Paper submissions to the conference were up almost 70 percent from 2009, said Professor Suel. “In terms of quality, it’s at least even with the top conferences already,” he said. “People just adopted it.”

WSDM kicked off with a day-long Search and Social Media (SSM) workshop which investigated the unique data mining and search technologies of social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Flickr.

Effusive blog posts provide evidence of the events’ growing popularity. “The quality of the presenters, the overbooked registration, and the hundreds of live tweets...all attest to the success of this event,” wrote Daniel Tunkelang for The Noisy Channel.

Next year’s WSDM conference is set to take place in Hong Kong.