Information Retrieval and Web Search (FSS2017)


Homework results

The results of the evaluation of homework #3, coupled with the results of the previous two homeworks have been published and can be obtained here. Unlike the first two homeworks,  for HW #3 many more students did not submit the programming solution and that, together with some errors in solutions of the other three tasks, led to a larger number of fails. 

Students who have not yet fulfilled the requirement of passing three homeworks, must submit and pass the HW #4 in order to be eligible to take the exam (these students are labeled with "Not yet" in column F of the published excel sheet). Students who might have questions about the evaluation of their homework #3 should contact the lecturer directly via email.   


Fourth (last) homework

We have published the tasks of the Homework #4 which is related to link analysis algorithms (PageRank, HITS) and distributed IR. The deadline for solution submission is Monday, June 5 at 23.59

Later today we will publish the evaluation results of the Homework #3 and the overall results of the first three homeworks. Students who will have successfully passed first three homeworks need not submit the solutions to Homework #4. Those who will have passed two out of the first three homeworks must  pass the last homework as well to be eligible to take the exam. 


Project submissions and presentations

The submission deadline for team projects is extended to June 1 (23.59). Your project results, containing and archive with your solution and the PDF of the project report should be submitted to ILIAS (a designated task has been created; only one student per group should upload the project results). 

The presentations of the projects will be held on Friday, June 2 between 10 and 13 in the lecture room C012 of the building A5. The presentations should be tailored for 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of discussion. The order of the presentations is as follows: 


Team #1 (Sangwan, Zhang): 10.00-10.15

Team #2 (Rangaswamy, Hung, Suresh, Demirxhiu): 10.15-10.30

Team #3 (Hoffman, Portisch, Ulbrich, Hentschel): 10.30-10.45

Team #4 (Andreev, Mahani, Sevo, Schulz): 10.45-11.00

Team #5 (Becker, Haas, Wagner): 11.00-11.15

Team #6 (Takieddin, Barni, Altaaweel, Sadova): 11.15-11.30

Team #7 (Leung, Georgiev, Chen): 11.30-11.45

Team #8 (Mehmood, Sun, Azzam): 11.45-12.00

Team #9 (Gosemann, Frühauf, Wagner): 12.00-12.15

Team #10 (Nur, Perchani, Zonqi, Wiegel): 12.15-12.30

Team #11 (Hoffman, Beckmann, Lee): 12.30-12.45

Team #12 (Lyu, Song, Lu): 12.45-13.00


Homework #3

Third homework has been published on ILIAS. Submission deadline is May 21 at 23.59


Project coaching session

Next Tuesday, May 9 we will have the project coaching session instead of the lecture. Attendance is mandatory (if possible, all team members should be present). Not attending the coaching session might cause penalties in your project assessment.

The session will be held in room C1.01 (building C of the B6 block) according to the following schedule: 

Team #5 (Becker, Haas, Wagner): 8.00

Team #11 (Hoffman, Beckmann, Lee): 8.15

Team #12 (Lyu, Song, Lu): 8.30

Team #3 (Hoffman, Portisch, Ulbrich, Hentschel): 8.45

Team #7 (Leung, Georgiev, Chen): 9.00

Team #8 (Mehmood, Sun, Azzam, Dimitrov Chachev): 9.15

Team #1 (Sangwan, Zhang, Zhang(?)): 9.30

Team #9 (Gosemann, Frühauf, Wagner): 9.45

Team #10 (Nur, Perchani, Zonqi, Wiegel): 10.00

Team #2 (Rangaswamy, Hung, Suresh, Demirxhiu): 10.15

Team #6 (Takieddin, Barni, Altaaweel, Sadova): 10.30

Team #4 (Andreev, Mahani, Sevo, Schulz): 10.45


Evaluation of Homework #2

We have examined student solutions to HW2. The solutions of students in the below list require further examination, and we ask the students to come explain their solutions in the assigned slots. All other students (who submitted the second homework) are considered to have successfully passed the Homework 2. 

The following students should come and present their solutions on Tuesday, May 9, in room C1.02 in the assigned time slots:

1. Mehmood Arshad, 11.00

2. Daria Sadova, 11.10

3. Marcus Schulz, 11.20

4. Sun Zhe, 11.30

5. Sebastian Wagner, 11.40

6. Essam Azzam, 11.50


The list of project groups and chosen topics can be seen here. Please double check your groups and in case of any errors, confusions, or changes let us know as soon as possible.  


Second homework has been published on ILIAS. The submission deadline is on Friday 14.4.2017 at 23.59. 


Schedule for submission of Homework #1

According to your time-slot preferences, we have determined time-slots for the submission of the first homework:

  • Monday 20.3., 2-3pm
  • Wednesday, 22.3., 2-3pm
  • Wednesday, 22.3., 3-4pm


The students who have indicated their availability (via Google form) have been assigned one of the time-slots they indicated -- the exact time slots have been published on ILIAS. Students who didn't fill in the form but have submitted the homework solutions on ILIAS, may still come in one of the three slots above, but must first announce their coming via email.

The submissions will be held in room C1.02 (first floor of the building C in block B6). Students will come in in one by one, and beacuse of this, each student has been allocated an individual ten-minute slot (see the document on ILIAS). 


Testing examples for the programming assignment of Homework #1

Some examples to test your computation of Damerau-Levenshtein distance have been uploaded on ILIAS. There are both examples with and without weighting of different edit operations. 


Team Project: topics announced

Five team project topics have been fleshed out on ILIAS. The team projects are to be carried out in groups of 4 students. All other details regarding the projects are stated in the PDF uploaded to ILIAS.

Each of the five topics will be explained in detail during the next lecture, on Tuesday March, 21. After that you will be requested to register project teams and select a topic of your preference.  


First Homework: submission time slots

The slots for presenting your solutions of the first homework will be held on Monday 20.3. and Wednesday 22.3. Please indicate time-slots in which you are available to come present your solutions by filling in the following form

Please select ALL slots in which you'd be able to come (so all slots that do not interfere with your other lectures), and not just the slot that suits you best.  

The deadline for submitting the solutions of the first homework to ILIAS is Sunday, 19.3. at 23.59. At the presentation, you will be required to download the solutions you submitted to ILIAS and explain them.

For the programming assignment, you need to be able to (compile and) run the code you submit to ILIAS. The easiest solution is to bring your own computer on which you'll run the code. If you don't have your own machine to bring, let us know in advance so that we can prepare a machine for running your code. 


First homework

First homework has been published in ILIAS. Carefully read the problems and solve them individually. For all questions and doubts, visit your lecturer in office hours (announce your visit via email first). Submission deadline is Sunday, March 19 at 23.59. Presentations of your solutions will be held in dedicated time-slots after the submission deadline.


First lecture

Tomorrow, Tuesday 14.2.2017. we will have our first lecture of the course, "Introduction to Information Retrieval". The lecture will start at 8.30 in the building A5, lecture room C013. You can find the slides for the lecture on ILIAS.

We put the start of the course on the Valentine's day so you fall in love with this course! 


General description

Level: Master (Diploma)


  • Programming skills (a higher-level pgoramming languages like Java, Python, C#, or C++ recommended).
  • Fundamental notions of linear algebra, probability theory, as well as algorithms and data structures


Given the vastness and richness of the Web, users need high-performing, scalable and efficient methods to access its wealth of information and satisfy their information needs. As such, being able to search and effectively retrieve relevant pieces of information from large text collections is a crucial task for the majority (if practically not all) of Web applications. In this course we will explore a variety of basic and advanced techniques for text-based information retrieval and Web search. Coursework will include homework assignments (exercises), a term project and a final exam. Homework assignments are meant to introduce the students to the problems that will be covered in the final exam. In addition, students are expected to successfully complete a term project in teams of 2-4 people. The projects will focus on a variety of IR problems covered in class. Project deliverables include both software (i.e., code and documentation) and a short report explaining the work performed and its evaluation.


Teaching staff:

Lectures: On Tuesdays, starting at 8.30 am (1.5 hours lecture session, followed by an exercise session)

Office hours: Every Friday at 14.30, B6 26, Building C, Room C1.02 (please previously inform us via email when you plan to come)

Lectures period:

  • First lecture: February 14, 2017
  • Last lecture (project presentations): May 30
  • Easter break (no lectures): April 11 and April 18

Course materials: Include lecture slides and exercise/homework assignment sheets. All materials will be posted on this page as well as on the ILIAS page of this course, at least one week in advance (i.e., one week before the corresponding lecture). 

Lecture schedule

  • Lecture 01 (Feb 14): Introduction to Information Retrieval
  • Lecture 02 (Feb 21): Boolean Retrieval and Term Indexing
  • Lecture 03 (Feb 28): Data Structures in IR and Tolerant Retrieval
  • Lecture 04 (Mar 7): Term Weighting and Vector Space Model
  • Lecture 05 (Mar 14): Probabilistic Information Retrieval
  • Lecture 06 (Mar 21): Language Modelling for Information Retrieval
  • Lecture 07 (Mar 28): Relevance Feedback and Query Expansion
  • Lecture 08 (Apr 4): Latent and Semantic Information Retrieval Models
  • Lecture 09 (May 9): Classification, Clustering, and Learning to Rank
  • Lecture 10 (Apr 25): Evaluation of Information Retrieval Systems 
  • Lecture 11 (May 2): Web Search and Link Analysis
  • Lecture 12 (May 16): Distributed Information Retrieval
  • Lecture 13 (May 23): Student projects coaching
  • Lecture 14 (May 30): Student project presentations

Grading / Evaluation

●     50% final exam

●     50% final project

NOTE: you need a pass grade in both the exam and the project to get an overall pass for this course!

Final Exam. Coursework will include homework assignments: these are meant to give you a reasonable idea of the topics and exercises that will be covered in the final exam at the end of the course. Students are required to submit at least 4 out of 5 assignments and get 50% of available points.

Final Project. Students are expected to successfully complete a term project in teams of 2-3 people. The projects will focus on a variety of IR problems covered in class. Project deliverables include both software (i.e., code and documentation) and a short report (about 5-10 pages) explaining the work and evaluation.


C. D. Manning, P. Raghavan and H. Schütze, Introduction to Information Retrieval, Cambridge University Press, 2008 (available at

B. Croft, D. Metzler, T. Strohman, Search Engines: Information Retrieval in Practice, Addison-Wesley, 2009 (available at ).

R. Baeza-Yates, B. Ribeiro-Neto, Modern Information Retrieval, Addison-Wesley, 2011 (2nd Edition).