Information retrieval, the science behind search engines, had its birth in the late 1950s. Its forbearers came from library science, mathematics and linguistics, with later input from computer science. The early work dealt with finding better ways to index text, and then using new algorithms to search these (mostly) automatically built indexes. Like all computer applications, however, the theory and ideas were limited by lack of computer power, and additionally by lack of machine-readable text. But each decade saw progress, and by the 1990s, it had flowered. This monograph tells the story of the early history of information retrieval (up until 2000) in a manner that presents the technical context, the research and the early commercialization efforts.
Information Retrieval is at the core of our daily lives. Modern search, ranking and indexing systems underpinned by enhanced computing power, fast network speeds and near unlimited data storage capacity mean we have easy access to all the information we need, when we need it. Yet the principles upon which this modern technology based date back to before the 1960s.
In this concise history of the early years of Information Retrieval, Donna Harman, one of the pioneers of the field, provides the reader with a plethora of insights into the important work that led us to where we are today. Written in a chronological order and in a manner that presents the technical context, the research and the early commercialization efforts, it lays out how each contribution built on what went before. The reader is offered a text that is not only a delight to read, but is also insightful in the way the technologies evolve as computing power increases.
Information Retrieval: The Early Years will be of interest to everyone with an interest in understanding the foundations of the science behind search engines.