INSC 540 Overview & Logistics

  • Room: MGH 248
  • Web page:
  • Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 9:30-11:20am
  • Quarter: Fall 2003
  • Instructor: Professor Wanda Pratt
    • Email:
    • Office: MGH 330L
    • Office Phone: 543-6653
    • Office hours: 11:30-12:30 on Wednesdays (best to confirm via email or in person)

Course Overview

  • Prerequisites: doctoral student in Information Science, Biomedical and Health Informatics, or permission of instructor.
  • Content: This course covers fundamental techniques for user-centered design and information retrieval, including new research challenges in the broad area of information access.  The course will cover traditional approaches to information retrieval as well as advanced techniques in text classification, document filtering, visualization of retrieval results, and text mining. We will discuss the traditional approaches to evaluating information-retrieval systems, the problems with those approaches, and a sampling of alternative approaches.
  • Style: In addition to covering the core topic of information retrieval and user-centered design, this course is designed to provide a enjoyable and supportive environment that helps you improve your skills in reading papers critically, defining and scoping a project, writing about a project, and presenting a body of work. The assignments in this course correspond to this style.
  • Readings will be available online through e-reserves (available soon)


  • User-centered design of systems
  • Retrieval process
    • Searching
    • Browsing
    • Filtering
  • Models of retrieval
    • Boolean
    • Vector space
  • Methods for organizing documents
    • Classification
    • Clustering
    • Hypertext
    • Visualizations
  • Evaluation
    • Performance-based
    • User-centered
  • Interfaces to retrieval systems
  • The web and web search engines
  • Text mining
  • Question answering

Accommodating Students with Disabilities:

To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services: 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from DSS indicating that you have a disability which requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need in the class.   

Academic accommodations due to disability will not be made unless the student has a letter from DSS specifying the type and nature of accommodations needed.

For additional information, see Statements to Ensure Equal Opportunity and Reasonable Accommodation

Last updated by Wanda Pratt on September 29, 2003