On building more human query answering systems
Speaker: Yannis Velegrakis, Assistant Professor, University of Trento
Date: 30 June 2014 Time: 14:00 - 16:00
Location: Seminar Room 1, FORTH, Heraklion, Crete
Host: Yannis Tzitzikas


The underlying principle behind every query answering system is to provide a query describing accurately the information of interest. The desire to bring query answering systems to a broader audience made clear the need for relaxing this requirement. Keyword queries were a first step towards this direction, but was not enough. Keyword queries are still machine oriented, i.e., few people talk to each other in keywords. We try to push the motivation of keyword queries even further and build query answering systems that are closer to the way humans interact and search for information in their daily lives. We present two works that bring two important features to existing the search engines: Interactivity and Examples. The first allows the system to interact with the user when the systems is not in position to provide an answer, in order to help the user find what is searching for in the shortest possible time. The second, introduces a novel form of query answering in which queries are not any more specifications of what the user is searching for, but simply a sample of what the user knows to be of interest but cannot provide a description that includes all the elements of interest she does not know about. We also talk about the problem of answering keyword queries over relational data.


Yannis Velegrakis is a faculty member of the Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Trento.

He holds a PhD degree in Computer Science from the University of Toronto. He is one of the founders of dbTrento, the Data and Information Management group.

His research areas of expertise include large scale integration of heterogeneous and highly distributed data, efficient and effective query answering methods, social data analysis, and Big Data. Prior to joining the University of Trento, he held a researcher position at AT&T Research Labs in the US. He has also spent time as a visitor at the University of California, Santa-Cruz, the IBM Almaden Research Center, and the Center of Advanced Studies of the IBM Toronto Lab. He was a member of the committee for the CIMI cultural profile of the ANSI/NISO Z39.50 standard.

He has served in many program committees of national and international conferences and as reviewer for numerous internationa l journa ls. He has been a general chair for VLDB 2013, WebDB 2012, DESWEB 2010/11 and SWAE2007. He holds 2 US patents and has been a Marie Curie Fellow for the period 2006-2008.

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