In 2015, the award panel was highly impressed both by the quality and diversity of the field of candidates: it faced a hard time narrowing down the nominations to a short list. Even more so, it turned out the panel experienced a genuine difficulty of deciding between the two candidates who best matched the award criterion "To have endeavoured to advance our understanding of IR and/or NLP through experimentation." As a consequence, and unique to 2015, the panel decided to make two full awards. In alphabetical order:
Computer Science Department, University of Colorado, USA
The panel recognised Jordan's technically strong and creative work on probabilistic topic models, in particular, how his work has shown that the semantic coherence of these topics can be systematically assessed, how linguistic knowledge such as word senses, syntactic relations and inter-language relationships can be incorporated - and crucially - how user feedback can easily and iteratively be integrated into learned topic models to improve the semantic coherence of the topics. The panel thought that Jordan has shaped our understanding of NLP in new and important ways through experimental machine learning research.
Department of Computer Science, University College London, UK
The panel was impressed by the body of Emine's research on evaluation techniques to better match the realities of modern information systems, in particular her work on missing user judgments, her proposed new metrics that are more robust to missing data and her work on expected browsing utility as a new evaluation metric derived from interaction patterns of real web search sessions. Her recent work focused on devising and evaluating the quality of task based information retrieval systems, retrieval systems that can help the user complete the task that have led them issue a query to a search engine, as opposed to just retrieving a list of documents relevant to the query submitted. The panel recognized that Emine's research has pushed the field of IR forward in these important aspects and that her work has had a high impact on academia and practice.