CS6200: Information Retrieval

Fall 2015

This course provides an overview of the important issues in information retrieval, and how those issues affect the design and implementation of search engine software. The course emphasizes the technology used in Web search engines and the information retrieval theories and concepts that underlie all search applications. Mathematical experience including basic probability is strongly desirable.

Instructor: David Smith, Assistant Professor in Computer and Information Science (Office Hours: Thursdays 3-5; WVH 356)

Class meeting: Thursdays 6-9 p.m., Shillman 105

Piazza discussion board: https://piazza.com/northeastern/fall2015/cs6200

Course Texts

There is no single required text for the course; however, readings will be assigned from two different texts, and we strongly suggest following the readings from one or both of the following:

Lecture Notes

Lecture notes will be posted on the syllabus.


Assignments will be posted here.

Course Policies


There will be a midterm and a final examination. The midterm will be administered in class on Thursday, 22 October, will require about one hour, and will constitute 20% of the course grade. The final will be administered on Thursday, 10 December, from 6–8 p.m., and constitute 30% of the course grade.


There will be six assignments, making up 50% of the course grade. All assignments will be equally weighted, and the lowest-scoring assignment will be dropped. Instructions and due dates will be posted on the course website as they are assigned. Some of the problems will be difficult, and it will often be helpful to discuss them with others. Feel free to form study groups; however, the idea is for everyone to understand the problems and experience working through the solutions, so you may not simply "give" a solution to (or copy a solution from) another classmate. In general, each student must write up his or her own code and homework solutions and must not read or copy the solutions of others. If you work with others on a problem, you must note with whom you discussed the problem at the beginning of your solution write-up. However, for one of the more complex, later assignments, we will allow collaboration with one other student.

Late policy: Assignments are due at the the announced due date and time, usually 11:59 p.m. You will be granted one homework extension of four calendar days, to be used at your discretion, without having to ask. This single extension is meant to smooth over unforeseen crunches in your schedule, and you cannot simply distribute the four late days among four assignments. After the first late assignment, unexcused late assignments will be penalized 20% per calendar day late. We normally will not accept assignments after the date on which the following assignment is due or after the solutions have been handed out, whichever comes first. If you know in advance of circumstances that would cause you to turn in an assignment late, please contact me before the assignment is due to ask if an extension is possible.

The homeworks will consist mostly of programming exercises to implement various components of a search engine. We will usually also ask for your output on certain datasets and a short report describing your design choices and experimental results.

Academic Integrity

All work submitted for credit must be your own.

You may discuss the homework problems or projects with your classmates, the TA, and the instructor. You must acknowledge the people with whom you discussed your work, and you must write up your own code and solutions.

Any written sources used (apart from the text) must also be acknowledged; however, you may not consult any solutions from previous years' assignments whether they are student- or faculty-generated.

Accomodations for Students with Disabilities

If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic accommodations in this course and have not yet met with a Disability Specialist, please visit www.northeastern.edu/drc and follow the outlined procedure to request services.

If the Disability Resource Center has formally approved you for an academic accommodation in this class, please present the instructor with your “Professor Notification Letter” during the first week of the semester, so that we can address your specific needs as early as possible.