Rutgers iSchool Associate Professor Chirag Shah has been awarded $100,000 by the Amazon Research Awards program for his project “Addressing Cold Start Problem in Personalization and Recommendation Using Proactive Information Retrieval.” The grant will be distributed in two parts: $80,000 in monetary funding, and $20,000 in AWS cloud services credits.
The proposal takes on the issue of search and browsing difficulties, where users often do not know where or how to begin a search. The project will use existing data from a number of browsing and searching studies to build behavioral models for proactive information retrieval (IR), and test them using a new user study involving online searching and browsing. The results will include a new algorithm that will use a small amount of browsing data from a user’s session and make predictions about the nature of the task. This algorithm will also be able to provide recommendations before even the searcher realizes the need for them, thus being proactive in an IR episode and addressing the possible cold start problem.
“We have entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where artificial agents are becoming an integral part of our lives, being more proactive than reactive,” Shah said. “This project will design, build, and test information agents that learn from our behaviors and offer crucial support in a proactive manner.”
Also serving as Director of the InfoSeeking Lab, Shah’s work focuses on interactive information retrieval/seeking, with an emphasis on those involving social and collaborative aspects.
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