Summary

Query performance prediction refers to inferring retrieval performance of a given query with a search engine. It is useful in a few different ways. For example, if a given query has poor performance, then the search engine may give the user an alert. Thus the initial query can be modified for better performance. It is also possible that the search engine may modify a query automatically. Poor performance to certain type of queries also indicates that there are not enough relevant documents in the corpus and more relevant documents to these queries should be replenished.

Query performance prediction methods can be classified into three categories: post-retrieval prediction, pre-retrieval prediction, and combination methods. Post-retrieval prediction happens when the retrieval results are obtained. It involves the use of contents, relevance scores, and many other features of retrieved results. Pre-retrieval performance prediction uses the descriptive features (such as linguistic features and part-of-speech tags) of query terms, corpus related statistics, and others to predict query performance.

The prediction process happens before the retrieval process takes place, and retrieval results are not required. The third category is combination methods which combine different prediction methods or features into one. Recently, some machine learning methods such as neural networks have also been used in many information retrieval tasks including query performance prediction. The major task is to set up a beneficial prediction model.

A related issue is how to select a group of most useful features from a large number of them. For both post-retrieval prediction and pre-retrieval prediction, dozens of features can be collected.

To undertake this project, it is desirable to have good knowledge on information retrieval, machine learning, and statistical analysis.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,285 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University